What Exactly is an ATP, Anyway?


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So, you have found this site and may be wondering “What is an ATP?” More importantly, you may also be wondering why you should consider my advice. This article explains a bit more about the special certification I hold that indicates my knowledge of products that help seniors and my experience providing these products in real life.

An ATP is an Assistive Technology Professional that is certified by the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA). ATP’s have special training and knowledge in providing mobility products to individuals with disabilities. This is done by analyzing the needs of the individual, assisting that individual with choosing appropriate equipment, and teaching them how to safely and properly use the equipment to improve their life. ATP’s also adhere to a high ethical standard of practice. As of August 2015, there were over 4,100 certified ATP’s.

How Does an ATP Get Certified?

Earning an ATP certification is not an easy process at all. To become an ATP, the candidate must meet certain education and work criteria just to be eligible to sit for the certification exam. The exam is a rigorous test of various concepts of using assistive technology. These concepts include psychology and sociology; human anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics, and disease states. Other important concepts are learning and teaching, assessment procedures, delivery and funding for assistive technology, and detailed product knowledge of assistive technology devices. The main focus of this knowledge is the integration of person, technology, and the environment. Ethical professional conduct is a cornerstone of this interaction. To have a high chance of passing the exam, the candidate usually has to have significant experience in the field of working with individuals with disabilities.

How Does an ATP Help People with Disabilities?

Assistive Technology Professionals are trained to look at the person with the disability as an individual with needs. We are trained to look at the individual as a whole and who the assistive technology will improve their life as well as how it may affect other parts of their lives. The types of assistive technology that an ATP may assist with are:

  • AAC (Augmentative and alternative communication)
  • Accessible transportation (public and private)
  • ADL (aids to daily living/activities of daily living)
  • Cognitive aids
  • Computer access
  • EADL (electronic aids to daily living)
  • Environmental aids
  • Learning and study aids
  • Recreation and leisure
  • Seating, positioning, and mobility
  • Sensory (e.g. hearing, vision, physical) aids and accommodations
  • Vocational aids and accommodations

I specialize in the seating and mobility area as well as the recreation and leisure area.  The types of assistive technology I typically provide are:

  • Manual Wheelchairs
  • Power Wheelchairs
  • Mobility Scooters
  • Seating and Positioning
  • Custom Molded Seating
  • Aids to Daily Living (Bath Products, Walking Aids, Lifts)
  • Adult and Pediatric Strollers and Car Seats

During the evaluation process, the ATP works with the individual and other medical professionals (doctors, nurses, physical therapists and/or occupational therapists) to understand the full picture of the person’s medical profile, mobility needs and goals, and the environment in which they will be using the technology.  Once the situation is understood, the ATP works with the client and their medical professionals to determine the actual products that will meet those needs and goals.  After obtaining the necessary funding to pay for the products needed, the ATP orders the equipment and delivers it to the patient.  A very important part of the delivery process is training the individual and their caretakers on the safe and effective operation of the equipment.

Why Should I Consult with an ATP?

Because an ATP has had special training and follows a detailed process of equipment selection, you will typically be more satisfied with your assistive technology products if you consult an ATP.  Almost every day, I meet with people who have gotten a piece of equipment at their local mom and pop pharmacy that they can’t use because it doesn’t fit, they can’t operate it, or it doesn’t meet their needs or goals.  An ATP would have taken measurements to make sure the equipment fit properly, trained the person on how to properly use it as well as discussing the products with them to make sure it met their goals.

ATP’s also stay up to date on the latest products on the market that will benefit their clients.  Many of the products I prescribe have many options in addition to the base product.  For example, an ultra lightweight manual wheelchair has various options with arms, wheels, casters, cushions, backs, and more.  The arm you choose may affect your ability to transfer or ability to transport the equipment.  An ATP understands how all these parts work together.

Most ATP’s do not charge for their services as they are paid by the medical equipment company that they work for. They may be paid a salary or commission or a combination of the two.  You can, of course, pay an ATP directly well as a consultation fee or other ways.

In some instances, an ATP is required to be a part of your equipment selection.  Medicare, in particular, requires me to be part of the process for certain power wheelchair and manual wheelchair classifications.  I have to sign off on the equipment and provide evidence of my involvement. Private insurers and some state medicaids are now following these guidelines as well.

Summing it up:  What IS an ATP

The ATP is someone who can make choosing and understanding your mobility products easier and more fulfilling. Because of the unique knowledge and experience the ATP has, you should insist on their involvement any time you and your loved one need medical or mobility equipment.

How Does All This Affect GrayingWithGrace.com?

My plan for this site is to be open and transparent about all parts of the assistive technology process.

  • I am going to give you my opinions about products in the form of product reviews for many mobility related products on the market.
  • I am going to give you insight on the product selection process so that you can help choose the best product for you or your loved one.
  • I am going to help you understand how insurance works when procuring assistive technology and explain the funding process.
  • I am going to help therapists and doctors understand their role in the process as well.

No secrets!  Even if you are working with your own local ATP (which I recommend), I want to share my knowledge with you so that you are truly making informed decisions.

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