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Power Wheelchairs Keep Medicare Beneficiaries Out of Nursing Homes, While Reducing Government Costs and Providing More Freedom and Independence

Thu, 05/05/2011 - 2:32pm
Bio-Medicine.Org

OCEANSIDE, Calif., May 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For Judith Talnadge, a power wheelchair provided through Medicare is the difference between living independently in her apartment, with opportunities to visit with friends and engage in the community, or being confined to a nursing home.

Those starkly different living environments are the only options available for Talnadge, a 40-year-old woman, who suffers from muscular dystrophy and spina bifida.  These medical conditions have severely limited her mobility, confining her to a power wheelchair since 1994.  

"If it wasn't for this power wheelchair, I would be in a nursing home right now," Talnadge said, acknowledging dependence on her complex rehabilitation wheelchair that helps provide the mobility that her own body can no longer perform.

"I'm grateful that Medicare is providing me with a power wheelchair that allows me to live a better life," Talnadge said. "I enjoy being with my friends, taking care of pets and being active in my home and community.  For a few years, I volunteered at the train station, where I was a station ambassador and provided travel information and directions to passengers at the tracks.  I've been looking for other ways to volunteer, but lately people look at my wheelchair and say that I can't do the job.  But I keep trying."

Across the country, thousands of Medicare patients are similar to Talnadge. They suffer from medical conditions ranging from muscular dystrophy to cardiopulmonary diseases, progressive neurological diseases and other disorders limiting their mobility. If they don't have caregivers, they may be placed in nursing homes unless they can safely perform activities of daily living such as grooming, getting to the bathroom and preparing food for themselves.

Physicians prescribe power wheelchairs because the technological advancements can allow Medicare patients to perform the activities of daily li

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