When a loved one becomes physically disabled and unable to walk, getting him or her the necessary mobility equipment is essential for their quality of life. The month of May in the U.S. and Canada is National Mobility Awareness Month (NMAM), which raises awareness about mobility solutions available to the public. During the awareness month, people with disabilities are encouraged to embrace their circumstances, and live their lives to the fullest.
The U.S. and Canada have over 18 million people who brave mobility complications with six million being veterans. While Medicare Part B, under certain conditions, does help pay for some mobility solutions, it can be expensive for most people. Lacking the needed mobility equipment can make a person feel as if they were abandoned. Researchers have estimated that approximately 2.2 million Americans need to use a wheelchair for being able to move around. This number is expected to increase an estimated 22 percent over the next decade.
The aftermath of war leaves many service men and women disabled, and sadly with little government support. They find themselves at a complete disadvantage as they return from duty with ailments like mental illness, deafness, blindness, and missing limbs. It is up to the communities to get involved, and help the veterans who defended the freedom of their country. Organizations such as the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) was created to assist veterans and their families. DAV provides free, professional assistance to disabled military veterans of the United States Armed Forces.
Family caregivers step forward everyday for about three hours to provide mobility assistance to a disabled loved one. Although the monetary value of these services which family caregivers provide are at no cost, it is estimated that they contribute time worth $375 billion a year. During the National Mobility Awareness Month of May, people are made aware of the options and help that could be made available by providing some amount of respite to them, and their family members.
In the U.S., there are few programs for people who need assistance in mobility to help pay for the equipment. People with Medicare pay around 20 percent of the approved amount. Medicare pays for durable medical equipment in many ways depending on the equipment and if there is a need to buy or rent. For citizens living in certain parts of the country, Medicare’s Competitive Bidding Program is followed. This allows people to get competitively bid supplies and equipment. The program also entitles Medicare to pay only for supplies and equipment that are provided by contract suppliers. There is a limit of 20 percent co-insurance value that these suppliers can charge people.
People with disabilities have expressed that inadequate mobility equipment is a major problem. During NMAM, it is imperative that people in the international community work to focus on the ways in which individuals living with disabilities can persevere over the physical challenges they face everyday. Working to bring attention to the urgency for mobility solutions, so that disabled people can lead more independent lives, is what many are striving for in the month of May which is regarded as the National Mobility Awareness Month in the U.S. and Canada.
By Ankur Sinha
Ride-Away: 2015 Mobility Awareness Month
Medicare.gov: Manual wheelchairs & power mobility devices
NMEDA: Get Ready for National Mobility Awareness Month
Hanan Cohen’s Flickr Page-Creative Commons License
Port of San Diego’s Flickr Page-Creative Commons License