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Five AT Myths

"It's illegal to change CPAP/APAP/BiPAP/VPAP (also known as xPAP) settings yourself." This myth, which is often applied to other "high tech devices" as well, drives much suboptimal treatment, because your initial settings are often based on somebody's habits, a misleading sleep study and/or an incomplete understanding of the ways that your sleep or medical conditions change from night to night. Aided by instructions via the Net if/as needed, start low, go slow and keep track of what you do and what happens. Don't buy a machine without a data card that you have access to. Sleepyhead is a great cross-platform app if your machine is compatible.

"Prices for medical equipment are all pretty much the same on line." Prices often vary by 300% or more. Web sites range from bare bones warehouses to Amazon to insanely-gouging DME (often easily distinguishable by their stock photos of smiling people) vendors. Shop till you drop! Look for coupon codes on home page banners. And read product reviews on multiple sites -- some are "salted" by in-house staff or contractors.

"A standard hospital bed is 75" long." A look at your own bed, a measuring tape and the length of your pillow will demonstrate that especially in a bed in which raising the head is going to make someone slide down, you need to have sufficient length. This conclusion is bolstered by the fact that many people in hospital beds are there because they have limited mobility and need to be repositioned frequently, need special boots to float their heels, etc. Most people will need 80" (also the length of a queen bed, BTW) and many will need 84". Each of these sizes will allow for plenty of mattress and bedding choices, so don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Also, most often you will want a foam and not an innerspring mattress, tailored to your patient's level of pressure ulcer risk. If you choose an air (static or alternating pressure mattress), make sure you understand its [often lower] weight limits, especially if more than one person is on the bed at times.

"Windows computers are best for people with disabilities because they have more alternative input options." This canard probably got started because the major eye gaze unit vendor is not Mac-compatible. However, most people with disabilities can use something besides eye gaze -- mice and switches can be operated with the head, chin, lips, tongue, a single limb muscle (switches only) and of course -- duh! voice. So unless your eyes are the only body part with movement, using switch access and/or alternative mouse access is possible on the Mac, Linux or Windows OS of your choice.

"Insurance won't pay for a seat elevator function for a power chair, nor a tilting shower/commode chair nor [insert object of your need here]." Depending on your diagnosis, your persistence, your clinician's letter-writing skills and your payor, often what you consider "logical" is indeed reimbursable. Imagine yourself in the network executive's chair. What rational arguments can you provide? Assistance with toileting [as opposed to the less "essential" activity of bathing], prevention of pressure ulcers/injuries and equipment that can "adapt to disease progression" are all good starting points.

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