Imagine needing a wheelchair to get anywhere, even inside your own home. Now imagine you have to wait a year until you can fill that need! It may sound like a horror movie scenario, but it has been an unnerving reality for many with mobility challenges in Western North Carolina. Not anymore.
Through a new company called LimbTech (www.limbtechnc.com), an Asheville-based occupational therapist – Dr. Amy M. Siegler – is now providing a service designed to significantly reduce wait times for people who depend on “seating systems” such as wheelchairs, standers and pediatric walkers. She’s doing that by providing mobility assessments and recommendations for those in need, as required by Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance companies as part of their payment-approval processes.
Dr. Siegler said she formed LimbTech to fill “a huge and unconscionable gap” left by the sudden closure of the CarePartners seating and positioning clinic by HCA Healthcare, Inc., the new owners of Mission Hospital. The clinic had served thousands of area residents each year.
The current situation in Western NC is dire, driven by an influx of individuals who require wheelchair assessments. They’ve had difficulties dealing with insurance companies, while the turnaround times have stretched past nine months. Just as frustrating as the wait times is the rate at which insurance companies are still denying individuals who physically need a wheelchair for mobility. The reason? They can’t get sufficient evaluations done in WNC, which the CarePartners clinic used to provide.
Even with the formation of her new company, Dr. Siegler is one of only a handful of occupational and physical therapists offering this life-changing service in WNC.
It’s not just about mobility. Some need access to wheelchairs to increase their respiration, maintain their blood pressure, decrease edema and improve visual attention. The proper mobility seating allows them to participate in work, school and the everyday activities most of us take for granted. This vulnerable population has experienced rising rates of depression, anxiety and physical wounds. With mobility, people increase their overall independence, self-worth, psychological wellness and overall health.
LimbTech is currently a mobile operation. Its personnel do all the evaluations, follow-ups and wheelchair fittings in the comfort of patients’ homes. After an assessment is complete, the therapist works with an interdisciplinary team to compile enough documentation to submit for insurance authorization.
“Whether they need to get to a job, a school or just another room, the people we serve deserve the help – and the dignity – that mobility brings them,” said Dr. Siegler. “So this process should be as seamless and simple as possible, and we’re determined to make that a reality.”