In this edition, Occupational Therapist Angela Bialorucki shares how to acquire the many different kinds of durable medical and adaptive equipment available, and what is most suitable for your care receiver’s needs.
Most mobility aids are covered by insurance with a physician’s prescription. However, there may be some effort to be evaluated and determine qualification for an electric wheelchair or scooter. You will need a trained wheelchair evaluator to complete this assessment. I would suggest to contact local wheelchair medical vendors and inquire whether they have qualified personnel to perform assessment and submit to insurance for authorization; not all medical supply companies offer this service.
Hospital beds, bedside commodes and transfer equipment:
Hospital beds, bedside commodes and transfer equipment are also often covered by insurance with a physician’s prescription and medical documentation to justify the need. There are more stringent qualifications to get these items, but doctor and therapy records are usually enough to support the need.
Self-care equipment is not well covered by most insurance companies; however, the Veteran’s Administration will cover all equipment recommended by your doctor or therapist. Medicaid has been known to cover some. There also may be community-based programs that can provide equipment based on income level. Northern Nevada has Care Chest of Sierra Nevada that provides medical equipment, prescription assistance. For more information, visit https://carechest.org/site/.
Northern Nevada has many medical vendors that stock almost anything you will need. Commonly used items are often available at local pharmacies and of course you can find anything you need and more online. Look for the best price and availability once you have decided on a product you want.
Websites to browse for Durable Medical Equipment and Adaptive Devices:
Local Medical Supply Stores:
Here are a few I’ve worked with that have good customer service and a variety of equipment options. There are many more specialty stores that you can find online or ask your insurance company who they contract with that may bill insurance directly.
A Plus Oxygen and DME: 940 Matley Lane, Reno / 775-329-0101
Accellence Home Medical: 5450 Mill Street, Reno / 775-352-9539
Lincare: 1380 Greg Street, Sparks / 775-359-6262
Medtech Services: 555 Gentry Way, Reno / 775-384-8357
Front Wheeled Walker: most helpful to provide support while walking and are safe given proper instruction in use. Often used when upper body is strong, but legs are weak or painful.
4 Wheeled Walker: less stable if one needs to use arms to support self, but usually has a seat to allow rest if endurance is limited.
3 Wheeled Walker: easy to maneuver in small spaces
Hemi-walker: typically used when one side of body is weak from a stroke or other brain injury
Single Point Cane – Single Point Canes are designed to provide an additional point of contact with the group for balance.
Quad Cane – A mobility device that is used as an aid for walking. This also helps reduce slippage.
HurryCane – A portable cane. The HurryCane adjusts to five different heights, pivots, bends, and provides stability to the foot.
Standard manual wheelchair: most commonly used; has adjustable and removable leg rests; many accessories available including seatbelts, brake extensions, elevating leg rests, lap trays, oxygen tank holders.
Transport wheelchair: lighter weight and collapses to smaller size for improved ease of transport to appointments, however more difficult for individual using this wheelchair to self-propel so caregiver needs to have strength enough to push.
Electric Scooters: many models available ranging from $800 to $2000; not safe for all individuals with vision, cognition and arm/hand function needing to be assessed before investing in this mobility device.
Gait/Transfer Belt: A must have for caregivers that need to provide physical support when helping someone to walk or transition movements (sit to stand, pivot to chair/wheelchair/bed/toilet)
Mechanical lifts / Transfer equipment: Mechanical lifts are devices that help assist with transfers and movements of individuals who require assistance and support for mobility.
Activities of Daily Living Equipment
Raised Toilet Seat: it is safest to get one that either clamps to toilet bowl or has option to secure with hardware to toilet.
3:1 Commode: Three in One Commodes can be used over the toilet, at the bedside or even in the shower. They come with a bucket to be used at bedside and a shield to be used over the toilet to prevent spray outside toilet bowl. Most are height adjustable.
Shower Chair/Tub Transfer Bench: Depending on type of shower you have, there are many options to allow someone to sit safely during bathing activities. A small plastic shower chair is usually adequate for use in a stall shower. However, if you have a tub/shower combination and it is difficult to step over the tub, then a tub transfer bench may be necessary. Both options are usually height adjustable.
Handheld shower: Can be found at home improvement stores, some pharmacies as well as medical supply companies. Most are very easy to install.
Grab bars: There are many styles and options. If one has a chronic disability, declining health from a progressive disease or aging process, having a contractor install permanent bars in the bathroom both in the shower and near the toilet is recommended. There are some suction cup bars on the market, but don’t just look for the most affordable as these are not the most stable and have been known to pop off shower tile resulting in a fall with serious injury. Make sure if you are looking at suction cup grab bars to read reviews or speak to your Occupational Therapist about models that are known to be safe. Transfer poles are also an option that can be installed at the bedside or in the bathroom to assist with standing balance and safety with transfers.
Hospital Bed: Need a physician’s prescription. Some have electric controls, but others have manual crank controls to raise and lower the bed. Bed rails come in full length or ½ length. Bed rails are designed to prevent falling out of the bed, but they are also useful to help with rolling or scooting in bed. All are height adjustable, but some come with option to adjust the head or foot of bed as well. May need specific documentation to justify need for head and foot adjustments in order to have insurance cover the more adaptable bed.
Self-Care Adaptive Equipment: There are hundreds if not thousands of devices to make participation in self care easier for people with physical impairments such as: reacher, sock aid, long shoehorn, elastic shoelaces, plate guard, large/curved handled utensils, rocker knife, adaptive cups/mugs. Some are easy to figure out how to use and whether it will be worth the money spent on a specific item. Because these are not covered by insurance, if there is any question about what is recommended or how to use a piece of equipment, request a referral to Occupational Therapy for assessment and training.
Websites to browse for Durable Medical Equipment and Adaptive Devices:
For more information on durable medical and adaptive equipment, call the Community Foundation at 775-333-5499