Archives for February 2016

Wheelchairs at the Beach

It’s March, and many of us have gotten to the point where the beach sounds like a really great getaway from the rainy and snowy, gray days that have settled in. With that being said, it is important to those who use wheelchairs to know that they too can enjoy the beach. We have come up with some ways for people to have their wheelchairs at the beach, either by bringing your own set of wheels or getting some that are beach-customized.

  • First consider whether the beach you plan to visit has wheelchair accessible ramps, boardwalks or trails. These pathways are the most common ways to access the beach on wheels. As a matter of fact, most state owned beaches and National Parks have at least one wheelchair accessible path for you access. The best thing about them is that independent use is encouraged, and does not require any special adaptive equipment.
  • From South Carolina to Hawaii, beach mats are becoming more and more common. These are literally hard, rubber mats placed on the sand all the way to the high tide line, giving those in wheelchairs the ability to navigate down to the water the way anyone else would.
  • Beach wheelchairs can be a fun change when accessing the beach. Unlike your normal wheelchairs at the beach, there is no worry about sand getting into places that later require maintenance.  Beach wheelchairs are made with oversized plastic wheels that are made to travel over the sand.  There is nothing stopping you from getting right into the surf to enjoy the water in one of these wheelchairs.  These chairs come in manual and powered versions, though if you choose a manual one, it is important to remember they require the services of someone else to push.

There are many beaches that offer wheelchair access all over the world, though right here in the US, there are beaches to be enjoyed whether you prefer the paths and trails or to rent a beach wheelchair.  For example, Hilton Head, SC boasts being one of the first in the country to offer beach mat paths.  On the beaches of San Diego, CA, powered beach wheelchairs can be used free of charge.  In Virginia Beach, there is a beachfront boardwalk that allows visitors to enjoy the beach without getting into the sand.  However you picture your beach vacation, make sure to get the most out of it, and enjoy the sand.

If you have further questions about wheelchairs at the beach or your mobility equipment, please contact us at 888-345-1780 or visit us online at Aeroflowinc.com.

Basic Wheelchair Maintenance

Owning a wheelchair means having a sense of freedom.  It also means taking care of that freedom by making sure your wheelchair is in great condition, getting you from place to place for as long as possible.  Aeroflow Direct, from Aeroflow Healthcare, knows what it means to maintain your mobility and provides a wide variety of products for wheelchair maintenance and other medical equipment.  Proper wheelchair maintenance improves the life of your wheelchair, your mobility and your health.  Manual and power wheelchairs have different requirements, but the idea behind them is all the same, to make sure you can maintain your mobility freedom.

First and foremost, the wheels are literally the most important part to upkeep. The wheels are prone to wear and tear but the maintenance can be very simple.  Keeping the correct air pressure is the goal for pneumatic, or air filled tires.  Checking this pressure on a weekly basis and filling tires to the manufacturer’s requirements (usually printed on the outer rim of the tire) will keep them in great shape.  If tires are underinflated, there is a greater chance for premature wear and more likelihood of a flat tire occurring.

Also another important part of wheelchair wheels are the bearings.  Most well made wheelchairs have sealed bearings, but it is possible for smaller particles such as hair and carpet fibers to get lodged in them but a pair of tweezers can help remove the debris.  The casters need cleaning as well, and it is easiest to remove the casters, clean them thoroughly, wipe down the axles, re-lubricate and replace.  Also keep in mind that the spokes of your wheels need attention too.  If you “ping” the spokes like playing a guitar and any of them sound dull or visibly vibrate, they should be replaced.  This can be done at a local bike shop if you have one close to home; however, Aeroflow Direct is a great place to get these maintenance items online.

The seat and backrest are important because they are your main centers for comfort, support and posture.  The backrest can stretch over time and make you feel like you are leaning further back and this can cause unneeded back pain and muscle strain, or even injury.  Maintain the back rest by marking straps with a crayon or some kind of indicator to be sure the buckles remain in place.  Your wheelchair provider can help you choose the right back rest and cushions for your chair to make sure you are comfortable. Also, make sure your seat is maintained by keeping an eye out for wear and tear, by paying close attention for rips in the fabric.  Clean the upholstery monthly with mild soap and water to protect you from germs and bacteria that can collect in the material.

If you are a do-it-yourselfer or someone who would rather have a little guidance when it comes to your wheelchair maintenance, have a look at the products on Aeroflow Direct or call 888-345-1780 and choose option 2 to speak with a knowledgeable mobility associate who is here to help!

What to Expect at Your Mobility Evaluation

You’ve contacted a power chair supplier, hopefully Aeroflow, and you’ve scheduled your mobility evaluation so your doctor can complete the paperwork for your insurance to help cover your chair. However, you aren’t sure what to expect at this mobility evaluation. I mean, even the appointment sounds strange. What in the world is a mobility evaluation?

Simply put, it’s a physical exam where your doctor will make a case for why you need a power chair to get around. They’ll do this by completing a seven element order form and documenting why you need the power chair, in their office notes. Your supplier will fax the doctor the paperwork or mail it ahead of the appointment. At Aeroflow Healthcare, we send three pages, a cover page (not shown below), a 7 element order form, and office notes guidelines to help your doctor document everything your insurance company is looking for.mobility evaluation

As you can see, this form is a fancy version of a prescription that gives the insurance company an overview of what equipment you need, what diagnosis you have and your doctor’s signature. While, this looks simple, everything has to be filled out correctly with no cross outs or white outs. If any corrections are made, the prescribing doctor has to initial and date their changes. To be safe, you should see if the doctor can fill out the form at your appointment, or at the least ask to make they have recently done this paperwork so they’re aware of the process.

After reading the guidelines we send your doctor, you should be relieved that this appointment is basically a few physical measurements, like your upper extremity and lower extremity strength along with a series of statements your doctor needs to make about why you can’t use other equipment alternatively to the power chair. For instance, after the physical exam if your doctor decides that you’re too weak to safely operate a walker, manual chair or scooter then they would need to specifically state that about each one. Your doctor could easily do this by stating something like: The patient’s UE and LE strength is: 2/5. Due to their UE and LE weakness the patient can’t use a walker inside their home because they would be at a high fall risk. The patient can’t propel a manual chair inside their home due to their UE weakness and the patient can’t use a Scooter inside their home because their UE is too weak to safely operate the scooter’s tiller system. That’s the majority of the documentation your doctor has to do (other than their standard physical examination report).

The rest is basically that you can safely use the equipment and what you need to use the chair for inside your home. For instance, your doctor could state something like: The patient has the physical and mental abilities to safely operate a power chair inside the home. The patient is willing and motivated to operate a power chair inside their home. The patient can safely transfer to and from a power chair. The patient needs the power chair to get to the bathroom on time and to get to the kitchen to prepare meals.

Takeawmobility evaluationay

All and all that’s what a mobility evaluation is-an appointment where your doctor will take some objective measurements (strength, pain, range of motion and etc). This will support their specific statements about why you can’t use other equipment and to ultimately build a case for your insurance supporting why they should pay for your power chair. It’s important to note that while the example above is simple, insurance companies are strict when they review your doctor’s documentation so everything must be specifically stated. Also, the objective measurements must match the claims your doctor makes. For example, if your doctor says you can’t use a manual chair due to UE weakness but gives a 4/5 UE strength measurement, then that won’t work. As silly as that sounds, we receive paperwork daily with similar examples.

If you have any further questions about what you should expect at your mobility evaluation, please call us at 844-380-0820. To see if your health insurance will cover the costs of your mobility equipment, please fill out our Qualify through Insurance form.

Choosing the Right Lift for Your Power Wheelchair

When a power wheelchair has become part of a person’s life, the ability to transport this power chair is vital for maintaining independence. With that said, it is important to know your options when choosing the right lift for you, your wheelchair, and your vehicle. Lifts are available based on the weight of the power chair, the ability of the driver to operate the lift, and the type of vehicle that will support it. All of these things need to be considered when purchasing a lift for your power wheelchair.

There are several different kinds of lifts- manual on the outside of the vehicle, electric also on the outside of the vehicle, and those that are inside the vehicle. Aeroflow Direct, from Aeroflow Healthcare, offers a variety of lifts to accommodate many vehicle types and personal preferences. Click on any of the product titles you are interested in and get the lift’s specifications, including whether or not the lift comes with a warranty.

For most people, they are not in the market for a new vehicle that comes equipped with a lift, so your options are a little different when choosing a lift for your power wheelchair. For example, if you drive a small, fuel-efficient car, you will probably not choose a lift that brings your power chair inside your vehicle because there is simply not enough room. In this case, you will want a lift that is compact, and you have a choice whether you will use a manual lift or one that is powered. Aeroflow offers a popular model of lift such as the Outlander TM Exterior Lift. This lift requires little or no modification to a small vehicle.

If you drive a minivan, or you are going to purchase a vehicle that can be equipped with an internal power chair lift, you may consider the Backpacker Plus Interior Platform Lift. This lift features a pre-assembled single piece platform that you can drive your scooter or power chair on or off from either direction and can lift up to 350 pounds.

Aeroflow Healthcare has offered power chairs and lifts for years and has helped patients customize their mobility experience to their needs. With a knowledgeable staff, we can help patients qualify through their health insurance either online or by phone for a lift for your power wheelchair. Our mobility representatives will guide you through the automotive lift process, just as they do with power chairs, scooters, and manual wheelchairs. Don’t forget to check out Aeroflow Direct to see the products we offer! Please call us at 888-380-0820 to speak with one of our mobility specialist today!

Wheelchair Accessible Vacations

It’s that time of year where you start to get cabin fever and a vacation sounds really nice. Even though Las Vegas, Nevada is most known for its slogan ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, it’s one the of the most wheelchair accessible cities in the country. This city is neither for the timid, nor the judgmental, so if you do decide to vacation there, be prepared to be entertained because there’s no place like Vegas!

Whether it’s gambling, lounging, night-clubbing, dining, shopping or watching a show, everything is found in the casinos. The casinos are designed for people to meander through and get caught up in all the fun. Most casinos have wheelchair accessible slot machines and table games. For assistance locating them, contact the casino manager should be able to help you out. Some casinos may not seem wheelchair accessible from the outside due to barriers, but there are ramps into every casino, you just need to find them, and most of the time there are signs. Las Vegas has more wheelchair accessible guest rooms than any other city in the country. The hotels have rooms with roll-in showers, transfer showers, tubs with built-in seats and tubs with portable seats. If you need one of the options, be sure to select this requirement (when booking online)or mention it to the hotel coordinator if speaking on the phone.

Transportation in and around Las Vegas: Shuttles, Taxis and Wheeling 
-AT THE AIRPORT – Lift-equipped shuttles and taxis are available with service to any hotel or motel. A variety of shuttle/limousine services are available at McCarran International Airport.

-TAXI SERVICE – All taxi companies in Las Vegas have lift-equipped vans accommodating one wheelchair. Call from your room, use any dedicated taxi phone or ask the doorman at your hotel for an accessible taxi van. Click here for transportation listings.

-CITY BUS – The RTC (Regional Transportation Commission) bus service is fully accessible, including buses that are lift-equipped, have low floors and kneel, and accommodate two wheelchairs. Reduced fares are available for seniors and persons with disabilities. Call 702-228-7433 for routes, schedules or help in using the system. The “Strip” bus runs 24 hours a day.

-PARATRANSIT – Southern Nevada’s Paratransit services are named RTC Paratransit Service. If you are certified to ride Paratransit in your home city, bring your certification and you will be allowed to ride up to 21 days without having a Nevada certification. To schedule rides, call 702-228-4800 or TDD 702-676-1834 one to three days in advance.

-PARKING – Bring along your hometown dashboard-parking permit from your personal vehicle if you plan to rent a vehicle in Las Vegas. Out-of-state permits are recognized. Temporary disabled parking permits are available through the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. A physician’s statement will be required.

-TRAMS & THE MONORAIL – The Las Vegas Monorail offers service at seven stations between Sahara Avenue and the MGM Grand on the east side of the Las Vegas Strip. Additionally, visitors can take advantage of trams that connect various properties: between the Mirage and Treasure Island; connecting Mandalay Bay, Luxor and Excalibur; and connecting Monte Carlo to Aria Resort, Crystals Shopping Center and Bellagio Resort. The Monorail system is completely ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant and each station has officers.

-Hot Air Ballooning- Love in the Air Ballooning offers the only wheelchair accessible hot air balloon in Las Vegas. Check out a short snippet of Cory’s 90 minute flight!

 

Ready to plan your next trip? There are places all over the world that are wheelchair accesible. Check out some of our favorite travel bloggers:

How Aeroflow Can Help

As you can easily see, Las Vegas is a great location for wheelchair users to visit. Aeroflow Healthcare can help you get mobility devices that allow you to go visit great cities. We can even help you qualify for your mobility equipment through insurance. Check out Aeroflow Healthcare’s power wheelchair products and simply complete our Qualify Through Insurance form to see if your mobility device may be  little-to-no cost to you.

If you have questions regarding your power wheelchair, scooter, or other mobility aid, give Aeroflow Healthcare a call today at 844-686-5539. We’re here to help!

Power Chair or Scooter in the Snow

The time of year is back when getting around on wheels of any kind becomes a challenge.  Driving in the snow and ice takes patience and preparedness. This is also true with a power chair or scooter and you may be surprised how many similarities there actually are between the two. We have gathered some tips for operating your power chair or scooter in the snow.

-When batteries, whether on a car or power chair, are exposed to severe cold, they lose the capacity they once had to hold charge. In a car, a battery is a little better protected, but in a power chair or scooter, the battery is more exposed. It is important to know that at zero degrees, a battery on a power chair loses 60 percent of its charge. You can protect the battery by covering it to better insulate it and this will increase your battery’s life and protect it from the elements.

-Much like roads and driveways need to be properly maintained during snowy weather, outdoor ramps and walkways used by those riding power chairs or scooters also need to be addressed. Losing traction in a wheel chair can cause injuries and damage the chair. This can be avoided by clearing the snow away, and kept away by spreading salt or kitty litter to increase traction and keep the water on the path from refreezing.

-To prolong the life of your vehicle, it is good to clean regularly, but especially after being exposed to winter weather conditions. The salted roadways can cause rusting which can cause important parts to your car or power chair to erode. Cleaning off the car or the power chair will help maintain its protection and appearance by preventing rust and disrepair.

-Maintaining a comfortable body temperature is a challenge for those using a power chair or scooter outside because they are more exposed to the cold. Being inside a warm car means using the heat, which is not an option to those who are on a scooter. In this case, dressing properly is of the utmost importance. Layering clothing and making sure you have a waterproof coat and pants will greatly help.

-You also need to make sure there are proper tires on your power chair or scooter, just as you would make sure your car’s tires are able to perform safely in snowy weather.  Traction is a very important factor when operating a power chair or scooter in the snow.

When it comes to winter weather and its challenges, it is important to maintain your power chair or scooter by taking precautions against the snow, ice, and salt. Operating a power chair or scooter in the snow needs special attention during winter months in order to work better for longer. Please give us a call at 888-345-1780 if you have questions about using your power chair or scooter in the snow. If you or someone you know needs a help getting around, see if you qualify for a power chair or scooter through your insurance by filling out the qualify through insurance form.

Changes in Medicare Reimbursement

So many of us have looked forward to the year 2016 for so many reasons, but this year some mobility patients are feeling frustrated and neglected. The products they depend on will either not be available to them any longer or the out of pocket expenses will increase for these Medicare recipients who are so often on a fixed income. So we have covered some of the changes in Medicare reimbursement that you might see this year.

These changes have occurred because Medicare issued a rule that requires lower prices for certain mobility accessory items that were not included by Congress in the competitive bidding program. The competitive bid program was put in place by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 to keep companies from monopolizing the market. These products were not included at the time the bill was passed in 2003, and therefore a lower bid could not affect these patients by increasing their out of pocket expenses. Then an additional bill was passed in 2008, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act, which specifically exempted these items from being part of the competitive bidding program. This would be good, if not for the fact that these items are now required to be a part of the competitive bidding program.

If you are not familiar with the Medicare competitive bidding program, it was established to have medical providers submit bids to Medicare with lower prices than they currently pay for certain items. With this, Medicare enters into a contract with that company, saves money and establishes a trusted group of providers who have to comply with Medicare requirements in order to continue providing this equipment.  This is supposed to benefit patients, but some items and services were not included, as mentioned above. This affects those who are wheelchair dependent and those who use special accessories specific to their conditions. The following items are in question for changes in Medicare reimbursement:

-Wheelchair seat and back cushions that provide proper positioning and pressure release

-Power recline and tilt systems to change positioning for better breathing, blood flow and pressure ulcer prevention

-Specialty drive controls for individuals who must use alternative means to operate their complex wheelchairs

Pemobil President and CEO Larry Jackson states, “If Medicare moves forward with this rule, the severely disabled who depend on these products will see their health and independence jeopardized.  We strongly urge CMS and the Administration to rescind this rule to protect our country’s most vulnerable,” he adds.  Another disability advocate and Medicare recipient named Jenny Border contributed, “Life as an independent person with mobility issues will become significantly harder if this rule is not stopped, says Jenny Border, a disability advocate and Medicare recipient, in the release. “These items are not a luxury, and people need them to live their daily lives.”

Currently, there are several petitions circulating to let Congress know this is not the preferred way to go when it comes to changes in Medicare reimbursement, and how it affects those who really need these products. If you have questions or comments on how this may affect you, please get in touch with the mobility department at Aeroflow Healthcare at 888-345-1780. We can help you get the products you need through your health insurance. Just fill out our insurance qualification form and we will contact you soon!

What Are Your Wheelchair Options?

Many people are faced with difficulty getting around, even in their own homes.  When this is the case, it is time to consider options to improve the ability to move around, get from one room to another, and to do the things that make their homes the places they want to spend their quality time.  Maybe you have thought about mobility products already, and you have ruled out a cane or walker, knowing your needs may be a little more complex than that. If this is the point you have reached, you may be thinking about your wheelchair options. We have come up with some pros and cons to owning both manual and power wheelchairs.

Let’s start with manual wheelchairs. First off, a manual wheelchair is the simplest option when it comes to a wheelchair choice.  A manual wheelchair is designed for two simple functions, either to be pushed by another person, or self propelled by the rider. There is no electric or gas power source involved. A manual wheelchair is lighter weight than a power chair and easier to transport.

There are specialty position wheelchair bases that include the ability to recline the back rest, tilt the seat, or both. These chairs are not as easy to fold up and place in a vehicle, but are designed to provide longer term seating for the rider, and are still easier to transport than power chairs. One positive that comes with using a manual wheelchair, is that it will require maintenance far less often than a power chair. Another plus, is that there is a level of exercise with a manual chair. As far as cost, a manual wheelchair will always be less expensive than a power chair. However, some disadvantages to manual chairs is the exercise achieved can bring muscle soreness in the shoulders, wrists and elbows.

When it comes to power wheelchairs, there are lots of good things to consider as well. Power chairs are made to go further with the least amount of effort from the rider. When it comes to individualized changes in the power wheelchair, there are definitely more options here than in a manual wheelchair. With a power chair, additions can be made over time that will increase the comfort an ease of maneuverability for any rider. Also the tilt and recline options that come with power chairs are electric options; just press a button and the seat and back support are adjusted to the rider’s preference.

With all these conveniences there does come a higher price, including the cost of the chair itself. A power wheelchair can be pretty expensive considering the needs of the rider. Luckily, Medicare and other insurance plans will cover most, if not all, the cost of a power chair for those whose doctors really think they need it. With that being said, It is more difficult to transport a power chair, sometimes requiring a modification to the rider’s personal vehicle to get it from place to place. Another thing to consider is that a power chair is made to be used indoors, so there are limits to its places of use.

If it is time for you see if about your wheelchair options, please call us at 888-345-1780 or fill out our easy two step qualification form. One of our knowledgeable mobility representatives can help you not only choose a chair, but get the chair paid for by your health insurance. Improve your overall mobility and start enjoying life again!