Statement on COVID-19 Vaccination for People Working with and Using Assistive Technology

In many countries, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted services for assistive technology1 (prosthetics, orthotics, wheelchairs, etc.), adversely affecting vulnerable persons with  disabilities and/or limited mobility, and the need was immense already. Over 1 billion people  need at least one form of assistive technology now and this is expected to rise to 2 billion by  2050. Meanwhile, over 90% do not have access to the assistive technology they require. 

Vaccination campaigns are starting and the first elderly people are due to be vaccinated this  month. However, national vaccination plans may not yet include all people using and supporting the provision of assistive products and services as a priority group, thereby putting  healthcare providers and recipients at risk. 

In most countries, assistive technology services are provided by a mix of public and private  sectors. Since the first phase of vaccinations typically focuses on “front-line healthcare  workers”, there is a risk of missing professionals in prosthetics, orthotics, wheelchairs, therapy,  etc. who are not employed in public hospitals. Governments should include these healthcare  professionals for early vaccination since assistive technology services are intimate, requiring  close physical contact to properly provide an appropriate device. 

Germany is providing a good example of a strategy that strengthens the role of assistive  technology service providers. A federal law was recently passed to improve health and nursing  care (GPVG), beginning in January 2021. This law underlines the considerable significance of  assistive technology provision for maintaining public health and ensuring quality of life despite  restrictions due to a disability, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The law also includes  reimbursement of protective equipment for extra hygiene measures by the statutory health  insurance (removing a financial barrier for many elderly care and small facilities). 

Previously, in 2016, Germany passed a federal uniform regulation to define critical  infrastructure. In healthcare, this involves immediate life-sustaining medical products  (commodity manufacturing and delivery); however, assistive technology providers were not  specifically mentioned, leaving room for interpretation. Since further regulations are under the  responsibility of the 16 federated states, it was these states that supported assistive technology  providers during the pandemic with financial assistance and exemption regulations for relevant  infrastructure. The new law will redeem this ambiguous situation. 

By the end of the year, the German statutory standing vaccine commission (STIKO) will  provide recommendations on how to prioritize vulnerable groups and beneficiaries in the roll  out of COVID-19 vaccine programs. Based on this groundwork, assistive technology providers  and service users should be considered as an integral part of public health care providers. 

Globally, the important role of all people involved with assistive technology services needs to  be recognized and should lead to these healthcare professionals, whether in the public or private  sector, and people who receive their services to be included in early national vaccination plans.  Early vaccination will not only enhance professional and patient safety, but also allow facilities  to return to pre-COVID-19 treatment levels, thereby starting to meet the global service backlog  that is affecting mobility, health, and quality of life. 

Please email comments to ISPO at headoffice@ispoint.org

1 Assistive technology (AT) is an umbrella term covering systems and services that deliver assistive products.  Assistive products’ primary purpose is to maintain or improve an individual’s functioning and independence  and to facilitate participation, including devices, equipment, instruments, and software; especially designed  and produced or generally available (e.g., wheelchairs, eyeglasses, hearing aids, prostheses, assistive digital  devices, software).

ISPO Canada Annual General Meeting

On October 24th, 2020, ISPO Canada hosted a joint educational session with the Ontario Association for Prosthetics and Orthotics (OAPO). Following the Educational Session, the ISPO Canada Executive Board held their AGM. For anyone who missed the event, the AGM is available to view below.

For any non-members interesting in learning more about becoming an ISPO member, please follow the links to check out the membership option and the benefits. As a member of ISPO, you join a worldwide network of professionals with the same patient-centric approach to care and dedication to excellence and enjoy exposure to the highest level of expertise and latest developments in the field.

ISPO Canada & OAPO AGM – Registration now open!

Registration is now open for the ISPO Canada & OAPO Joint AGM and Educational Session. The Session will run from 9AM to 3:30PM EDT on October 24, 2020. Find the link to the agenda below

AGENDA

Register in advance for this meeting. Please have your ISPO membership ID ready. You will receive a confirmation email after registration.

REGISTRATION LINK

Shout-out to our Gold Sponsor

We are extremely pleased that Ottobock has made a generous donation towards the Education program. Thanks to the support of these organizations the education program will be offered at no charge to all members and non-members. 

Student Abstract Competition: Deadline Extended

Contribute to the cutting-edge interdisciplinary program and gain national recognition!

The ISPO Canada Subcommittee invites students to submit abstracts for their research in Prosthetics and Orthotics. Selected students will submit a 5-minute presentation to be shown during the ISPO Canada & OAPO Virtual AGM and Educational Session on October 24th, 2020.

The submission deadline has been extended to FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25th, 2020 at 11:59PM PST.

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Please review the Submission Instructions PDF prior to making your submission.

Submission Instructions PDF – ISPO Canada & OAPO Educational Session 2020

ISPO Online Symposium on Telehealth

ISPO has the pleasure to announce its first “Symposium on Telehealth”. Organised by the ISPO Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Committee, the symposium will be held online on 16 October 2020, from 12 (noon) to 3 PM UCT.

Freely accessible to the entire ISPO community, the symposium will aim to demonstrate how communication technology is being used in various sectors of rehabilitation services. In particular, the purpose is to:

• Introduce participants to telehealth,
• Demonstrate/discuss the importance of telehealth in light of the current pandemic,
• Provide examples/model of telehealth that have been put into practical use.

Representing the multidisciplinary and international membership of ISPO, the symposium presenters will talk about topics such as the telehealth landscape, risk analysis of telehealth versus face-to-face interventions, telehealth strategies for remote regions, and telehealth for outcomes and patient education. Sufficient time is foreseen to answer questions from the audience.

The full programme and list of speakers will be made available shortly, and registration is planned to be open between mid-September and mid-October. The recording of the event will be made available to ISPO members in good standing.

You can sign up for the online online symposium by completing this short registration form.

In case of questions please do not hesitate to contact ISPO at education@ispoint.org.