Michelle Lange: Welcome, everyone. Thank you for joining us for this course today on assessment. This is the first of a series of courses, and I would encourage you to look at all of these or perhaps pick the ones that you believe will best meet your needs. We will talk a little more about this certification as we move through the first module. We are going to discuss what assessment is an assistive technology context; the importance of that assessment, the components, team members. We are also going to spend quite a bit of time on a particular service delivery model that is commonly used in assistive technology called the HAAT model, and also touch on outcomes.
RESNA, the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America, is the largest international assistive technology professional organization. RESNA has several different certifications. The primary one is the assistive technology professional, or ATP. The person, who passes this certification exam and meets the prerequisites before taking that exam, has a basic level of competence in this practice area. As of right now over 4,000 people hold this certification, and sometimes a certification is required in certain contexts, particularly someone who is recommending wheeled and seating mobility for someone who is on Medicare. This series of courses is designed to prepare someone who is interested in getting this certification by presenting information that is covered on this exam. It is not designed to completely prepare a person on its own. No one should really be able to just read a book or take a simple course and be able to pass a certification like this. There is also a certain amount of experience that is required. The candidate has to fulfill certain prerequisites before taking the exam, and those are listed on the RESNA website, as noted above. For occupational therapy practitioners, in particular, with either a bachelor's or a master's degree, 1,000 hours of work experience is required over a six-year period of time. That is the primary prerequisite before being able to apply to take this certification.
As we go through this information, some of this might seem familiar to you if you are already working in this practice area. As we move through this course, if there are areas that are less familiar to you, this might indicate an area that you may need to review further.
Why is Assessment Important?
Assessment is important in any practice area. It allows us to identify our clients' goals, needs, and whatever their parameters are in order to match to appropriate solutions. In assistive technology that could be solutions such as specific interventions or specific equipment recommendations. If we rush or skip that assessment, chances are we are going to have poor outcomes. Thus, it is important that we really take our time to do a thorough assessment. This can be a challenge in our current work venues. Oftentimes we do not have a lot of spare time, and we are being pressured to collect this information as quickly as possible. But again, if we are going to have successful outcomes for the client and use our time as efficiently as possible, it does require this thorough assessment.
Like many other assessments, we need to gather information, analyze that information, identify client and caregiver goals and what their outcomes are, define those parameters that need to be met, and then problem-solve as a team. The team includes the client and caregivers. What might help meet those goals? How do we match those parameters to the client's needs and then make our recommendations? We have to document those recommendations as well. An assistive technology assessment often involves various team members, and it is going to vary depending on the type of assistive technology evaluation.
If you are part of a wheelchair seating and mobility assessment, team members will include an occupational therapy and/or a physical therapy practitioner, complex rehab technology supplier, and sometimes a manufacturer representative. Again, we also want to include the client and caregivers. This is the core team. It is important to remember in seating and mobility that you use not just any equipment supplier. There are a lot of suppliers out there who might provide durable medical equipment, but here we are looking at a subset of that durable medical equipment called complex rehab. These suppliers will have more experience, more training, and typically will have their ATP certification.
If you are evaluating clients for augmentative communication, team members often include occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and sometimes a representative from a specific augmentative communication manufacturer. If you are evaluating a client for computer or tablet access and use, those team members may include an occupational therapist, and a speech language pathologist, particularly if this person is using this for any sort of communication, including written communication. An ergonomic specialist and a rehabilitation engineer may also be involved. Sometimes a manufacturer's representative is needed.
Electronic aids to daily living provide an alternative means of controlling things in the environment, such as televisions, door openers, hospital beds. Team members may include an OT and a home modification specialist. Some occupational therapists also wear that home modification hat as well. Rehabilitation engineering may be involved as well as manufacturer's representatives depending upon the needs.
Vehicle accessibility is really important for clients who are using any form of wheeled mobility. In this case team members may include an occupational therapist as well as someone who specializes in vehicle modifications. There are companies that perform these modifications that are aware of all the various options out there.
Finally we have a home accessibility team. These team members may include the OT, a home modification specialist, who may be the occupational therapist, and sometimes this evaluation may also include a contractor, someone who specializes in these modifications for people with disabilities. There are a lot of contractors out there who will tell you, "Sure, I know those ADA guidelines," but home accessibility, particularly for a wheelchair user, involves far more than just measurements, turning space, and counter heights. We have to look beyond that to what is best going to meet the client's needs.