AT Reuse

Behind every reused AT device, there is a story to be told, a dream being realized, and a goal being met.

The Pass It On Center Blog is a place for AT Reuse Programs and anyone else interested in AT and Durable Medical Equipment (DME) Reuse to discuss, share, explore and provide resources for the AT Reuse Community. So come on in and join the discussion, post a question or comment or just hang out and learn a few things.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hidden Assets

No, not some offshore banking strategy to evade taxes or misrepresent holdings in divorce court. We don't want our assets to be hidden! We want everyone to know about the lightly used assistive technology (AT ) that is available for reuse at low or no cost. We need a massive awareness campaign.

On my morning walk I encountered a neighbor with his wife and we fell into a discussion of AT reuse. This neighbor owns a pharmacy and durable medical equipment (DME) business. In addition to numerous small items available for donation, he has a high-end power chair for a child that retails for over $17,000. He would love to free up some space in exchange for a donation receipt for his taxes. Here's the catch: He didn't know about our state/regional refurbishing hub at Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC) in Stone Mountain, just 50 miles away.

We need to mount major awareness campaigns for our reuse programs. If we can't reach all prospective customers, we can reach out to DME providers, physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, hospital case managers, social workers, and others in our communities who encounter people in need of affordable AT. Most states have associations of DME or home medical equipment providers. All states have professional organizations for physicians and therapists. Most have annual conventions. Find the dates and locations and join them to share the reuse message. That's a first step toward greater awareness in our communities.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

If you no longer need this, someone else does

I love this slogan, but it's not original. Barbara Schultz of the Nebraska Assistive Technology Partnership uses this message and a telephone number on devices labeled for reuse. It's a dream of those in the reuse community to have every new AT device labeled for reuse before it is delivered to its first owner. That's because we know that so many devices are needed only for a short period of time, so the country is full of lightly-used AT that is badly needed by many who are uninsured, under-insured or experiencing delays in acquisition of new equipment. We would like to have every organization that sells or purchases AT label the devices with a source for information about a reuse program that serves the local community. If you are in a position to label new equipment, you can find information about local programs in the Locations Database at

Friday, June 24, 2011

Reuse & Recreation

Recreation is a key part of anyone's lives. It is a time to relax, compete, or just do what you love. Yet, adaptive recreation equipment can be very expensive, creating a barrier to people with disabilities to participate in their recreation activity. It seems that recreation equipment would have a perfect place in the Assistive Technology Reuse world. I would like to know about programs that are doing a significant amount of recreation equipment reuse. How do you match clients? Where do you get donations from? Any other information would be very helpful.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Are you Listed?

Over 190 AT Reuse program profiles have been created in the PIOC Reuse Locations database. This database aims to assist people with disabilities and their circles of support to locate their community resources that can assist them to exchange or locate refurbished AT that they need or no longer use. 

If you click on your state, do you see all of the reuse locations that you know about? If not, contact those missing programs and ask them to create a profile so that users will know where to find them. Is the information for existing programs accurate? Sometimes users click on a link only to discover that the program web site has a new address and the new information was not updated.

To get started, visit the PIOC Reuse Locations page at Simply click on “create an account” to enter your program’s information or to log in using the original sign in information to update an existing entry.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Five Quick Arguments for AT Reuse

Why is the reuse of assistive technology a great idea?

1. It provides devices to people who are uninsured or underinsured.

Wheelchairs in closets, text-to-speech programs on the shelf, walkers piled high at the local salvage yard, bariatric devices in the garage after the original user lost the desired 250 pounds, old prescription eyeglasses, the computer abandoned for a newer model, the cell phone that isn't the latest and greatest. These devices are the reality of our daily lives -- unused assistive technology that could help someone participate in the activities of daily life, whether work, learning, play or family. Many people do not have insurance coverage or money to acquire the AT they need.

2. Even those who have access to funding may need an interim solution.

How long might a person wait for private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid to approve and provide a needed AT device? Wouldn't it be great to borrow a device from a reuse program until the permanent device becomes available?

3. Reuse is a "green" idea.

Reusing assistive technology keeps devices out of landfills. That saves taxpayer money and ultimately reduces the impact on the environment. It reduces the "carbon footprint" of the industries that need to keep making more AT devices. It saves resources for future use.

4. Reuse can reduce healthcare costs.

Reusing those lightly-used devices can keep down the cost of healthcare provided through taxpayer dollars. This is not to argue that people should not get new devices, but that there is a role for reuse in the process. Many AT devices are needed only for a short period of time to assist in recovery from injury or illness.

5. Reusable devices can be a blessing in disasters.

Sometimes disasters require evacuation so quickly that an invidual cannot bring the equipment. Sometimes it is damaged in a disaster. Sometimes disasters cause injuries that result in the need for assistive technology for more people. That can be true here or elsewhere.

Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (Stone Mountain, Georgia) collaborated with Port Light Strategies (South Carolina) to fill the wish lists of people running field clinics in Haiti after the earthquake of 2010. Instead of random shipments, workers in Haiti identified the durable medical equipment and supplies needed and FODAC worked with Port Light volunteers to pack refurbished equipment to meet those needs.

AT Reuse: Loving the Idea

At the end of January, Pass It On Center staff members and some willing contributors from AT reuse programs travelled to Orlando for the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA )Conference. ATIA is a twice-yearly conference (Orlando in January and Chicago in October) where the makers of technology for those with functional needs come together with the professionals who provide the services (occupational therapists, physical therapist, rehabilitation professional, speech-language pathologists, special education teachers, etc.). It's an amazing experience, and ATIA provides access to the Exhibit Hall without charge. That's great because it attracts visitors from the community.

In addition to an all-day Pre-Conference, the Pass It On Center presented a strand of sessions on Reuse. Participants at the Pre-Conference included Dr. Stanley Pomarantz of Parkland Hospital in Dallas, who is planning a new reuse program to provide durable medical equipment for the uninsured, and David Banes, Deputy Director of Mada, Qatar's Assistive Technology Center. Mada is a nonprofit, state-of-the-art center designed to connect people with functional needs with information and communications technology.

Both Dr. Pomarantz and Mr. Banes come from places that we associate with affluence, but Dr. Pomarantz reports that 33 percent of the residents of Dallas County under the age of 65 have no medical coverage. That is nearly double the national average. He estimates that 25,000 to 50,000 individuals per year are in need of free or low-cost durable medical equipment in his home county. The need is obvious, but the challenge lies in gaining financial support.

As we sat in our booth in the Exhibit Hall, we had visitors of all kinds stop to ask what we do. Most thought AT reuse was a great idea. Many special education teachers were interested in how school district boundaries could be overcome to share AT. We were happy to tell them about programs in New England that are beginning to do just that. We save college professors and students from occupational therapy programs who were interested in reuse and in becoming familiar with reuse. We would like every person who loved the idea of reuse to become involved in a local effort -- as a donor, a volunteer or a supporter in some fashion. We referred dozens of people to our map and database of AT reuse locations. Just click on the Reuse Locations tab at to find the reuse location nearest to you. If you know about a reuse program that is not listed, please ask them to create a profile. We want to see the list grow -- and we're looking forward to the day when there will be a listing for that program in Dallas that Dr. Pomarantz is working to develop now.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Can you wave a wand to sanitize?

This blog will sometimes be a venue to follow up our Pass It On Center (PIOC) Webinars, and that's my purpose in writing about the use of ultra-violet (UV) wavelength light wands to sanitize devices. After the August Webinar on sanitization, a participant asked if UV wands were an appropriate alternative for sanitizing used assistive technology (AT) devices. I really didn't know, so I did a little research.

It would be nice if sanitizing could avoid the use of chemicals that require special handling to protect workers and the environment. We've all seen TV infomercials touting the ease and effectiveness of those handheld UV wands for getting rid of germs in your house. But, will passing UV-C light over a used wheelchair render it properly sanitized for reuse? Perhaps not.

It's true that UV-C light has a germicidal effect, but different "doses" are needed to inactivate different kinds of microorganisms. It's also aborbed by organic materials and has little ability to penetrate. A mini-wand tested by Dr. Philip Tierno, New York University Medical Center, had only minor effect on a sample of e-coli bacteria. (WBZ, Boston, March 18, 2008)

The claim that UV-C is used for disinfection in hospitals is true. What the manufacturers of these consumer products neglect to explain is that UV-C light is used in combination with other methods. One study concluded that shadowed areas still required disinfection by chemicals. Visibly soiled surfaces (especially with organic materials) must be subjected to physical or chemical cleaning before using UV-C light. Hospitals sometimes use a combination of chemical cleaning, UV-C light and special air handling systems.

UV light disinfection is sometimes used in combination with other methods for sanitizing both air and water. One research study concluded that UV "can be used as an adjunct air-cleaning measure, but it cannot replace HEPA filtration." (Atmospheric Environment, Vol. 37, 405-419. 2003)

One of the Indicators of Quality for AT Reuse is that programs sanitize devices in a manner consistent with sound scientific and medical advice. The objective is to make the device safe for the worker and the next user. The method chosen needs to be appropriate for the specific device and consistent with the manufacturer's instructions. In most cases, this involves a combination of physical cleaning with chemical disinfection. UV-C light is not a "magic wand" to replace that process.

This is not to say that you shouldn't use UV wands as an additional method of making the workplace and the AT devices cleaner and safer.

Webinar note: We usually have one Webinar each month on a topic of interest to AT reuse programs. They're free, and you're welcome to join us. Announcements appear at or you can be added to our e-mail notification list by sending a request to Liz Persaud at