In today’s world of health care reform, it is important that legislators and policy makers at the federal and state levels be sure to promote — not reduce — access to technology and services that enable people with disabilities to live full and productive lives. An example of this can be found by examining a small category of assistive technology called complex rehab technology (CRT).

Who needs CRT?

CRT includes medically necessary and individually configured manual wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, seating systems, and other adaptive equipment such as standing devices and gait trainers. This specialized equipment requires evaluation, fitting, configuration, adjustment or programming.

People with high-level disabilities, such as ALS, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury depend on CRT to address their medical needs, maximize their function and independence, and minimize their health care treatments and costs.

How it works

The items are typically provided through a clinician and provider team model that involves matching a person’s medical and functional needs to the appropriate configuration of various technologies. And once the equipment is delivered it then must be supported with ongoing maintenance, repairs and modifications.

CRT products enable people with disabilities to take full advantage of the educational and employment opportunities coming from the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) along with related improvements in building accessibility and transportation.

Creating support

The good news is Congress has the opportunity to protect access through passing CRT legislation this year in the form of bills H.R. 3229 and S. 2196. The legislation has broad bipartisan support and will ensure continued access to the specialized wheelchairs, seating systems and other critical components that are needed to give people the mobility they need to go to school, to work and to fully participate in their communities.

Investing and supporting the availability and use of CRT is good for everyone. Access to these individually configured products and services produces significant benefits to people with disabilities, to health care professionals, and to organizations paying the costs of health care.