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Why We Do What We Do–The Amazing Story of Tom and Tommy Barnard

By eanderson

March 4, 2019

Pressure injuries are common and too often life-threatening for users of wheelchairs. We are thrilled our program played a critical healing role for the Barnards.

We always say REquipment helps people stay safe and independent at home and in their communities. This story goes so much further.

Tom Barnard Sr. received a sit-to-stand manual wheelchair from REquipment last year. His son, Tommy Jr., recently emailed to let us know the extraordinary impact the device has had on his father’s health, quality of life, and overall happiness.

Video screen shot of man in a standing wheelchair next to his hospital bed.

“This video was presented in front of an audience of over 200 doctors and medical professionals from all over the country last weekend down in Atlanta Georgia at the National Wound Convention by my dad’s doctor. [.…] I have gotten so many people asking me about your program.[….] Thank you for your wonderful program.”

The video was made as a promotion for the South Shore Wound Center, which clearly did a terrific job for Tom Barnard Sr. Lisa Gould, MD, however, also credits Tommy Jr. with making a powerful difference. He cared for his father through his multiple pressure injury surgeries, recoveries, and finally, with finding him a free gently-used standing wheelchair from–you guessed it–REquipment!

In email and on the phone, the Barnards have let us know what that sit-to-stand wheelchair has meant for Tom Sr. First, there was the psychological effect of getting upright for the first time in 10 years. Second, was the profound benefit to his tissue. Tom Sr. had devastating pressure wounds (which are graphically shared in the video). He underwent a total of seven surgeries, including four for his primary wound and two for a second wound he developed, as Dr. Gould explains, while working to stay off the first injury. What he needed was to get upright altogether and restore circulation to this area of his body for periods of time each day.

We won’t pause to bemoan the state of our medical system that does not logically prescribe a standing device for persons experiencing life-threatening pressure injuries of this kind and causation. But we will celebrate that REquipment had equipment appropriate for Tom Sr. in our browseable inventory and that Tommy Jr. spied it and requested what his father so urgently needed. [NOTE: our website should be restored soon. We are enduring an upgrade.]

Our sit-to-stand wheelchair is not the only reason for Tom Sr.’s healing, but it was a dramatic turning point as the video makes clear. Tom Sr. used the REquipment device for six months and experienced such a dramatic improvement, healing his second wound and avoiding an eighth surgery (and more time lost in bed), that a case was made for insurance to cover a new powered device that has him cruising his neighborhood upright (see the end of that video!)

Tommy Jr. writes us: “I will be getting in touch with you all soon to get that original standing wheelchair back to you…so somebody else can benefit from it. That original chair helped my dad tremendously.”

Of course, I told Tom Sr. about another program we have here in Massachusetts, the Weight and Seating Independence Project which, like REquipment, is also a MassMATCH initiative. This project loans pressure mapping systems to wheelchair users statewide. I let Tom Sr. know these systems are available and can help him learn his best positioning for sitting and sleeping in order to avoid further injury.

Interested in learning more about pressure mapping for yourself or someone you know? MassMATCH is offering a free live webinar on March 20th at 2 p.m., “Getting Started with Pressure Mapping.” Read about it and how to register at this MassMATCH webpage.

And if you’re looking for gently-used durable medical equipment (or have something to donate), please call us at 1-800-261-9841 to learn about our inventory while our website is undergoing reconstruction. We will be back up soon!

Man smiling upright in a standing wheelchair.
Tom Barnard Sr. in his REquipment standing wheelchair