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Raising the Bar in Rehab

What Equipment Do You Need?

Published April 11, 2014 3:21 PM by Lisa Mueller

When I was in my outpatient neuro clinical rotation I learned a lot from my instructor about PNF skills as well as standing, kneeling and seated balance training. It was a lot of hands-on work and we didn't use a lot of equipment other than parallel bars and balance pads, and a mat table. The clinic set-up was simple yet effective; patients had what they needed but not a lot of high-tech gadgets I've seen at other facilities.

After graduating from physical therapy school, I became very familiar with budgeting. Every dollar had a place. That same budgeting concept probably applies to every physical therapy clinic. How do owners, supervisors and physical therapists prioritize their equipment needs? My style of treatment and the equipment I need to practice effectively may be very different from my colleague who requests entirely different supplies for her patients. What is the best way to mediate those differences so all patients have what they need during a physical therapy appointment?

There may be ways to offset an immediate equipment need, but it's also difficult to substitute for some supplies when you don't have them. Parallel bars offer a lot of functionality that can't be easily mimicked if they are needed by a patient. The best example I have of needing equipment at the right time was when I assisted patients with gait training in an inpatient setting and my patient was ready to transition from a wheeled walker to a cane. Finding a cane was somewhat difficult because they always seemed to be propped in a corner of a patient room, so I often used my hand as assist although this wasn't the same as the patient handling a cane independently.

This topic of equipment also ties in with the "lean" concept I wrote about two weeks ago. How do we make sure our clinics aren't wasteful with equipment and supplies? How do we remove excess or unnecessary equipment from our clinics? And, how do physical therapists think when budgeting for equipment and supplies? Do we invest in what patients need, in what we can market, or in both?

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1 comments

Lisa,

This comes at a good time when the current President of the United States has a proposal to reduce spending and reimbursement of services for healthcare while CMS and IT departments are requesting more money for their infrastructure and RAC audits have been suspended.  

Since therapy departments usually run reimbursements for services why shouldn't we get a larger piece of the pie for required and needed equipment to advance patients effectively.  

I once worked at a facility that did not have enough wheelchairs for every patient, the facility refused to buy more due to budget cuts.  Patients stayed in bed longer thus increasing their length of stay and providing more income for the facility.  

Equipment should be a balance between wants and needs.  Some therapy departments want a fancy e-stim/ laser unit but do they really need it for their patient population?  A B.P. cuff with stethoscope and SPO2 monitor on the other had would be used more frequently but they are still hard to come by in some facilities.  

Jason Marketti April 13, 2014 10:38 AM

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