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  • Technology is a constantly changing field. New devices are being created continually and improvements are implemented for existing technology at an advancing pace. The health care industry is no exception to this rule, and more specifically the field of custom rehabilitation wheelchairs is experiencing these fast-paced technological shifts and upgrades.

    The Christopher & Diana Reeve Foundation has been a significant contributor to this evolution of health care and rehabilitation wheelchair technology, with over $120 million given to laboratories dedicated to studying paralysis. A famous actor known for his work with researching cures for paralysis and the Foundation’s namesake, Christopher Reeve also required the use of a custom rehabilitation wheelchair after an accident left him paralyzed.

    According to Dr. Bonita Sawatzky in her study published on, the first known mention of a wheeled chair was in China and in 1916 the first motorized wheelchair was developed in London. A century later, modern wheelchairs now include the use of stronger, more efficient and more cost-effective materials such as chrome alloy or carbon fiber. Some custom rehabilitation wheelchairs now consist of aluminum that is commonly utilized in the aerospace industry, according to Rehab Management. Prototypes of lighter, stronger and more efficient rehabilitation wheelchairs are also becoming a reality. The Ogo is a wheelchair model not yet in production that will be built with all terrain wheels and is designed to be completely hands free for its users, according to Ogo Technology. This prototype is designed to travel up to twelve miles per hour and the battery will allow the user to travel just over 24 miles before recharging is required.

    While wheelchair design and comfort has significantly and rapidly evolved, this evolution of the custom rehabilitation wheelchair industry presents unique challenges to insurance carriers administering auto no-fault or workers’ comp claims. Insurance carriers are required to carry out their obligation to indemnify claimants, but in the case of an able-bodied person who becomes paralyzed and must use a custom rehabilitation wheelchair after sustaining a catastrophic injury during a claim, this indemnification is nearly impossible and requires advanced expertise in the health care technology field. Claims involving paralysis also require significant knowledge and expertise within the advancing field of health care technology. An insurance carrier’s adjusters/examiners may be limited in the expertise in knowing what elements should and should not be included in a provider’s bill in order to properly price auto no-fault or workers’ comp claims involving custom rehabilitation wheelchairs in a way that indemnifies the claimant while minimizing the cost and administrative burden to the insurance carrier.

    The evolution of custom rehabilitation wheelchairs shows the incredible advances of health technology and highlights continuing developments in the durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and medical supplies (DMEPOS) industry. Northwood is a DMEPOS industry expert and will bring this expertise to an insurance carrier for claims involving paralysis. Insurance adjusters/examiners will benefit from this partnership by realizing reduced claim administration time and in turn will realize savings on these catastrophic claims. Northwood specializes in the DMEPOS field and is an industry-leading authority on advances in the health technology field. When an claimant sustains an auto no-fault or workers’ comp claim involving paralysis, Northwood is fully equipped to provide the expertise the claimant and the insurer carrier requires. To inquire about the benefits of partnering with Northwood, please contact a representative today.

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