Reporter’s notebook: Tackling the scarcity of ATPs, growing the outcomes database

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Monday, February 3, 2020

YARMOUTH, Maine – Applications for RESNA’s ATP certification more than doubled in 2019, says Charlie Raphael, director of certification and education.

“Our trend has been to double and we’re going to more than double in 2019,” he said. “That is a massive jump in what we’ve done in the past.”

The increase in applications is significant, with a 2018 study by the University of Pittsburgh and NCART projecting there will be a scarcity in the number of ATPs in the next few years due to retirements.

Raphael has found, however, that the number of ATPs isn’t decreasing as fast as projected, because more ATPs near retirement age “are holding on and renewing more,” he says.

“They have such a value in the marketplace,” he said. “We’re seeing some jump out of the rat race and do more consulting, but they’re still in the workforce.”

It’s too early to determine the impact on the number of ATPs of two big changes RESNA made in 2019. Those changes: allowing younger professionals to sit for the ATP exam before they meet all of the requirements for the certification and, if they pass, earn the distinction of Candidate for ATP; and allowing anyone completing a certificate degree in AT from an accredited academic program to reduce the required work experience.

“The response has been overwhelming, but there are no numbers to report at this time,” Raphael said.

Scientific proof

The Functional Mobility Assessment tool has hit 5,000 datasets and was the subject of articles in two peer-reviewed publications in 2019, according to Greg Packer, president of U.S. Rehab.

The Assistive Technology Journal published “Functional Mobility Assessment Is Reliable and Correlated With Satisfaction, Independence and Skills” and the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation published “Evaluation of Service Delivery Effectiveness Through Patient Reported Outcome Measures.”

“The proof is in the science,” Packer said.

The FMA tool, which measures and compares patient satisfaction to perform mobility related activities to daily living in existing and new equipment, shows a 78% increase in satisfaction performing MRADLs, a 64% reduction in reported falls, a 83% reduction in readmissions due to a seating mobility incident, and a 52% decrease in skin breakdown.