My Personal Conference FAQ

Past President's Blog

It’s getting warmer and spring is in the air...which means it’s time to register for RESNA’s annual conference. I am offering you my personal top FAQs about this event. Ray Grott  photo
What are the basics?
You’ve likely received the core info so far: July 10-14; in Arlington, VA, a few metro stops from the center of D.C.; and a first time collaboration with NCART and NRRTS. (Follow the link to get all the pertinent details.
So what can we expect with the addition of these other partners? 
NCART (National Coalition for Assistive & Rehab Technology) and NRRTS (National Registry of Rehabilitation Technology Suppliers) are devoted to the provision of quality seating and wheeled mobility equipment and services and bring with them a strong expertise in these areas, including complex rehab technology. RESNA has collaborated with them on many issues over the years and we decided to join forces on a combined conference in 2016. At the same time, we are committed to maintaining our usual broad scope, with sessions on many different types of technologies from the perspectives of researchers, practitioners, and policy advocates. 
What’s exciting about being so close to D.C. is that there will be an opportunity for attendees to go “to the Hill” and meet with their representatives about assistive technology issues. But you can also stay at the conference hotel and continue enjoying a full schedule of workshops and scientific platform sessions. People will be able to earn a significant number of CEUs as always.
What else is happening?
We will be welcoming AgrAbility as it celebrates its 25th anniversary. The judging for the RESNA Student Design Competition will be held during the main conference, and will be open to all attendees. Besides conference sessions, there will be lots of opportunities to learn from and interact with some of the top people in the field and to share information and network with people who are as passionate about AT and RE as you are. 
With all of the options to interact with RESNA virtually, why should you attend in person? 
Want reliable information and answers to your questions? RESNA’s AT Forum is a great start, but you can dig in deeper at hands-on workshops and hallway discussions. Want to tell the world about your great new AT invention? You could tweet it using 140 characters OR share it with your peers who really “get it” at the Developers Forum or one of the Show & Tell sessions. Want to hear about new AT products? You can read RESNA Newsbriefs and trade magazines OR get hands-on with products while debating with others about the pros and cons. Not only that, but you can get an advanced look at what’s coming down the line based on the latest research and innovations. Grinding your teeth about funding cuts? You can whimper alone OR you can learn more about policy initiatives and join with others in  making a difference by speaking directly to your elected representatives, educating them about the importance of funding for AT devices, services, and research. 
Want to connect with others in the field? You can send them a request through LinkedIn OR actually meet and get to know them, exchanging ideas in an interactive and collaborative environment. You can connect with old friends and make new ones from around North America and beyond, and  experience being part of a great and dynamic field. In an era of electronic connections, quickie emails, texts and tweets, the in-person offerings of a conference cannot be beat for experiencing community, stimulating the brain, and recharging the batteries.  
Why the RESNA conference? 
While there are other AT conferences, RESNA is the broadest, most comprehensive gathering that covers the full range of assistive technology and rehabilitation engineering professional interests while bringing together lots of friendly people who want to hear what YOU think. As a professional organization and not just a conference with an exhibit hall, RESNA focuses on the attendee experience and on building our profession. You can feel the difference. 
Let me know what you’re looking forward to, or feel free to ask a question. I’m looking forward to seeing a large number of RESNA members and potential members this July!
Ray Grott, MA, ATP, RET
President, RESNA Board of Directors
May 17, 2016


Submitted by on

Thanks for this personal message, Ray. It's a great idea! I hope others write you as well.

Submitted by on

In 15 years as a caregiver and Hospice volunteer, I have seen much senseless and unnecessary suffering.

In the home, patients in pain, debilitated, and approaching death can easily become bed-bound for days, weeks, and months.

It is much like prison but worse - the bed becomes a 36" by 80" cell. Add pressure sores, incontinence, changing linens and adult briefs, bedpans, and the resulting pain and humiliation often exceeds prison. And I as a caregiver began to sometimes feel more like a jailer.

This is NOT a world I wish to live in as a caregiver, or one I would wish to die in as a patient. Nor is it one I would wish on my loved ones.

But what is the root cause? The answer seems quite obvious.

Patient transfer devices which are used to mobilize dependent patients have remained mostly unchanged in 60 years. They are  poorly designed, have low usability, and a number of inherent flaws that no amount of additional R&D will fix.

The sling lift (patient hoist) is mostly unusable in the home requiring lots of room and two trained caregivers. It is also slow (3-6 min. transfer), hazardous (it can tip and patients can easily fall for any number of reasons), and painful (it bends and compresses the patient). It is unsuitable for most fully dependent palliative patients and patients with other painful conditions (advanced cancer, arthritis, burns, dementia, fractures, prone and multi-trauma patients - the list is long).

So, since 1955 when the patient lift was copied from an automobile engine hoist, why is there no better device for bed transfer, toileting, and showering (ADLs) - one that would quickly and safely mobilize fully dependent patients?

Ask the assistive technology engineers, designers, and medical device companies. In my opinion, these professionals and institutions have failed nurses, caregivers, and patients. Compare the Safe Patient Handling field to advances in electronics or communications. How can any field be so static and  unchanging?
One barrier to developing better devices is that nurses have not made an effort to agree on a set of user requirements for an acceptable Safe Patient Handling device, and demand that a device that meets those specifications and requirements be developed and tested. Nurses and nursing advocacy organizations such as the ANA do not seem to have the analytic tools to develop such a list and seem to actively avoid considering such a process.
But here RESNA could step in and make an effort to develop a set of user and functional requirements for such a new device. These requirements would have standards for patient and caregiver safety (to limit falls and back injuries) usability, time required for each transfer activity (bed, commode, shower transfer), minimizing pain, cost,  weight, maximum patient size/weight. etc.
RESNA scientists and engineers are experts at standards development and ergonomic requirements.  Questions and comments are welcome.

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