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ATU585 – Live Life Therapy Solutions Inc with Sue Redepenning

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Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.

Special Guest:
Sue Redepenning OTR/L, ATP, MN-AS, ECHM – President – Live Life Therapy Solutions Inc.

https://livelifetherapysolutions.com

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If you have an AT question, leave us a voice mail at: 317-721-7124 or email tech@eastersealscrossroads.org
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—– Transcript Starts Here —–

Sue Redepenning:
Hi, this is Sue Redepenning from Live Life Therapy Solutions, and this is your assistive technology update.

Josh Anderson:
Hello, and welcome to your assistive technology update. A weekly dose of information that keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of technology, designed to assist individuals with disabilities and special needs. I’m your host, Josh Anderson, with the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. Welcome to episode 585 of assistive technology update. It’s scheduled to be released on August 12th, 2022.

Josh Anderson:
Today’s show, we’re super excited to welcome Sue Redepenning from Live Life Therapy Solutions on. She’s here to tell us about her journey as a OT, as an ATP, and some of the other amazing things she’s going to do in her career, as well as services provided by Live Life Therapy Solutions. It’s always great to get to talk to other providers and listen to the amazing things that they’re able to do every day.

Josh Anderson:
We thank you for listening today, and make sure to check out our show next week, as we will start a new series celebrating the Department of Transportation inclusive design challenge and the winners of that challenge. We’ll replace some interviews from the first, second, and third-place winners of that inclusive design challenge so that we can learn more about them and their winning ideas. Can’t wait to see you back here next week. But for now, let’s go ahead and get on with the show!

Josh Anderson:
Listeners, for those of you that have listened to this show for a long time, you’ve probably heard me reach out and ask for your input. Folks, I’m taking the time to do that again. Our guest today was actually recommended by a former guest, and as you will listen, it turns into a great interview. It turns out a lot of our guests come to us that way: Recommendations from listeners from past guests.

Josh Anderson:
So I implore you, if you’ve never reached out before, please do reach out. But if you have an idea for someone who should be a guest on our show, if there’s something you want to know more about, or just any other ideas that you may have for the show, we would love to hear from you. You can send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org, call our listener line at (317) 721-7124, or shoot us a line on Twitter @indataproject. And as always, thank you for listening.

Josh Anderson:
Maybe you’re looking for some new podcast to listen to. Well, make sure to check out our sister podcast Accessibility Minute and ATFAQ or Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions.

Josh Anderson:
If you’re super busy and don’t have time to listen to a full podcast, be sure to check out Accessibility Minute, our one-minute-long podcast that gives you just a little taste of something Assistive Technology based so that you’re able to get your Assistive Technology fix without taking up the whole day. Hosted by Tracy Castillo, this show comes out weekly.

Josh Anderson:
Our other show is Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions, or ATFAQ. On Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions, Brian Norton leads our panel of experts, including myself, Belva Smith, and our own Tracy Castillo as we try to answer your assistive technology questions. This show does rely on you, so we’re always looking for new questions, comments, or even your answers on assistive technology questions.

Josh Anderson:
So remember, if you’re looking for more Assistive Technology podcasts to check out, you can check out our sister shows (Accessibility Minute and ATFAQ) wherever you get your podcast, now including Spotify and Amazon Music.

Josh Anderson:
One of the many joys of this show is that I get to meet and interview other service providers from around the country and even the world. Well, my guest today is Sue Redepenning, President of Live Life Therapy Solutions. She’s here to tell us about her career, her experiences with AT, her business, and anything else that we can throw at her in the short amount of time that we have.

Josh Anderson:
Sue, welcome to the show.

Sue Redepenning:
Thank you so much, Josh.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, I’m really excited to get into talking to you about Live Life Therapy Solutions, about everything else, but could you start off by just telling us a little bit about yourself?

Sue Redepenning:
Yes, yes, I will. I’m an occupational therapist, my background. I’ve been in the profession for 35 years. I cannot believe it. I’ve really worked a lot in different assistive technology fields over my career in all settings. So, I’ve been in hospital settings, rehab settings, home care, and I’ve had my own business a couple times.

Sue Redepenning:
I’ve even worked in really unique things like driver’s rehabilitation, where I became a certified driving rehabilitation specialist and licensed driving instructor so I could help people with disabilities see if they could return to driving, or as their disability progressed, look at hand controls and different foot controls and controls for the vehicle.

Sue Redepenning:
Now, I work in my own business doing assistive technology in peoples’ homes in the whole state of Minnesota. I feel like everything in my career has led me to the path of having this business and doing this work that we’ve been doing the last 10 years.

Josh Anderson:
Awesome. Well, that’s amazing experience, and being able to have it in so many different environments and all. I’ll ask you a little bit about that in just a moment, but can I ask you what motivated you, originally, to become an occupational therapist?

Sue Redepenning:
Yeah, so I really enjoyed when I was a volunteer in high school, working with people that had a disability and really wanted to get back to their lives, even if it was in a different way. I started volunteering in a OT clinic in the hospital setting, and I was just enamored by the OTs and how they were helping people do that. That really helped me know that was my passion.

Sue Redepenning:
I have a very artistic side of thinking about things, so I really wanted to help people in a way where I could always be using my problem-solving skills and thinking of new ways and innovative ways to help people, all ages, be as involved and active in their lives as they can, even if it’s a different type of solution than I might use.

Josh Anderson:
Awesome. And you talked about all the kind of different settings: Hospital and everything else. What were some of the big differences you saw in the different settings that you’ve worked in?

Sue Redepenning:
Yeah. So when I’m in the hospital, it’s really focused on, first, critical care. That becomes the forefront of getting someone stabilized.

Sue Redepenning:
Then occupational therapists really focus on the immediate needs for the person to be able to return home or to know if they need to go to a different setting in between. We’re working a lot on rehabilitation. When we use assistive technology in those environments, it could be to help someone get better range of motion. It could be to help someone be able to get dressed. We can use assistive technology to look at motions the person needs to be able to do and then set up switches and games and different things to help, in a fun way, work on those things so it’s not always repetitive and only related to range of motion and strength in a non-fun way. We use a lot of assistive technology in rehabilitation to help motivate the person towards rehabilitation and make it more fun.

Sue Redepenning:
And then we also start looking at, like in the hospital, how a person can use the call light to let the nurse know that they need help, because a lot of people can’t push the traditional button. That’s kind of what it’s like in the hospital setting.

Josh Anderson:
Sure, and you brought up those things you never think about. I know you’ve done this a long time too, but whenever I go in someplace, I’m usually like, “Oh, how would somebody with X, Y, or Z be able to do this?” I never thought about the hospital call button, but you’re right. You have to have a pretty good range of motion and a decent amount of power in your fingers to be able to actually push that button.

Sue Redepenning:
Yeah, and that’s critical when you’re in the hospital, because they’re really busy. If the person can’t alert them, so yeah. Figuring all that out is what the OTs do for AT in that hospital setting. And then also to help the person in the hospital setting be able to do more things for themselves, like turn the TV on and off, and be able to adjust their bed and things like that.

Josh Anderson:
Ah, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. I know you said you’ve been in the field, an OT, for 35 years. I won’t keep saying that in case it’s any kind of thing you don’t want to think about-

Sue Redepenning:
That’s okay.

Josh Anderson:
Did your love of AT start right away? Did it grow? Do you remember the first time you really encountered assistive technology? I know folks always think the word technology, it means it’s high-tech or something like that. I know it isn’t always, but when did you develop the love for that component of it?

Sue Redepenning:
I would say about 10 years into my career. It wasn’t there at first. I was just learning my craft, really looking at, and this is AT too, but looking at adaptations and adaptive equipment and new ways to do things. But I didn’t really add the assistive technology, that I think of it now, until about 10 years into my career.

Sue Redepenning:
Once I really saw… And actually, technology wasn’t as available in the beginning of my career as it is now. When you think about it, we didn’t have smartphones. We didn’t have Alexa. We didn’t have off-the-shelf technology that people were using that were cheaper things to get. So the first 10 years I didn’t really think of that in my practice.

Sue Redepenning:
Then in the next 10 years, I was working in a rehab facility. We did start to get some, I would call them high-tech solutions, that were just for people with disabilities. Because again, there wasn’t a lot of things off the shelf. Some things that are considered smart-home technologies, but they were really high-end, so they would cost like $10,000 to be able to purchase. The hospital could get them. The rehab center could get them for people. But a lot of people couldn’t get them when they left there. So, that started to grasp my attention.

Sue Redepenning:
Then, where I worked, we had a driver’s rehab program, and they always used driving license instructors. I started to get interested as an OT to be able to do the pre-assessment and then to go in the vehicle, because I always felt, with my OT skills, becoming a driving instructor would be really important. Both those things started to catch my attention.

Josh Anderson:
That’s awesome. And yeah, the driver’s program, we used to have one here as well, and it’s always just amazing the things that you can do. The thing is, the thought of it, just from having teenagers I’ve tried to help learn to drive, that sounds frightening. To be able to have to be in the car and actually teaching someone to drive or teaching them to drive again, it seems a little scary to me.

Sue Redepenning:
It was the most interesting job I’ve ever had, for sure.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, I imagine. We’ve kind of talked about it before on this show, but just for our listeners who don’t really know, talk about the driver’s program and what kind of individuals you were able to assist or what kind of needs they might have that you were able to assess and work with them on.

Sue Redepenning:
Yeah, so in my career as a driver’s rehabilitation specialist, I worked in a rehab center, and then I also worked for a private practice after that. We did see all ages of drivers. It could be pre-teen to assess if that person has the physical, cognitive, and vision abilities to be able to look at driving, all the way up to the older driver and seeing if they’re still safe to be able to continue to drive.

Sue Redepenning:
Then I did a lot of physical adaptations for people who had a physical disability, but cognition and vision and everything were intact. The OTs would do a pre-assessment to really look at range of motion, vision, cognition, all of the different things you need for driving, so that we could either then take the person in the car to do the assessment to make sure that they could drive or to see what types of adaptations they needed, or we’d work with the driver’s instructor to do that piece. Then we would decide together and present that information to the person.

Josh Anderson:
So you’ve had a really great career, but now you are actually the president of Live Life Therapy Solutions. Tell us about Live Life Therapy Solutions.

Sue Redepenning:
Yeah, so we’ve been a company for 10 years, and we provide a system technology in peoples’ homes or in the community where the person needs it. It can be at work, school, community, and home. We started out 10 years ago getting a grant in the state of Minnesota to be able to offer assistive technology, assessment, and training for people who wanted to live in a home of their own. That was what that grant’s been about. We still have that grant, right now. We’re in our second contract with the state of Minnesota for that work.

Sue Redepenning:
And then we’ve been expanding, so we can bill our Minnesota waiver-based services to provide assistive technology, assessment, and training. We also can build a division of vocational rehab services. We’ve done some workman’s comp and different types of billing and private pay. We have a team of occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, and a system technology professionals, one who is an engineer, too.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, nice.

Sue Redepenning:
So we can provide the whole team approach to what’s needed for the person.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, that’s excellent. It reminds me a lot of our clinical program, here. And you touched on this a little bit, but I want to dig in a little bit deeper, because I think the program you were talking about… Is that the Technology for Home project?

Sue Redepenning:
Yeah, so that is our grant that we have currently and that we’ve had the last 10 years, and we’re in our second contract.

Josh Anderson:
Awesome.

Sue Redepenning:
Then we did have a grant that just ended called Tech for Healthy Aging that we were a partner in Minnesota with four people who were 65 and older in Minnesota. Now, that’s a billable program. We are always getting new grants with the state, billing new entities, so we continue to grow our work.

Sue Redepenning:
And what we’re seeing is in our state, and I’m sure everywhere, assistive technology is a huge need, and people are really underserved in that area. There are clinics that we get people to if that’s appropriate so that insurance or MA can pay for the person to be seen there. But oftentimes now, what I’m seeing, now that I’ve been in peoples’ homes, is you really don’t understand how the technology works to assess it until you get into the person’s home environment, wherever they are, or work environment, and see how the technology behaves there. It’s really important that we’re doing those assessments in the places that people are going to be using that device. It’s been really fun.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, most definitely. We get questions like that all the time where people will call and say, “I just hired somebody with (insert disability), and what do I do now?” And it’s like well, I don’t know the person. I don’t know the environment. I don’t know so much.

Sue Redepenning:
Exactly. There’s so many variables. You’re right, yes.

Josh Anderson:
There really is. I worked with a gentleman who was hard of hearing, and he worked in a factory that like, we don’t really know how to communicate, and I went. Everyone wore hearing protection, and it was so loud you couldn’t talk to each other anyway. And I was like, “Well, what do you guys do now? Write notes back and forth?” Well, what’s the difference? They’re like, “Oh, I didn’t even think about that.” It’s like guys, I understand you’re being proactive. You’re getting somebody in here. But it’s not going to be any different. You can’t hear each other, either. So it always cracks me up.

Josh Anderson:
But yeah, you bring up such a good point about being in someone’s environment and really seeing what they’re working with and how it’s going to fit into that environment to make it really be able to help them.

Sue Redepenning:
Yeah, and then what I really love about our practice is because we’re billing the social model. So we’re billing waivers, and we have grants. We’re not billing the medical model, right now. We’re person-centered, and the people we see are Sam and Joe and Cindy and Abdi. They’re the person. I don’t say patient. I don’t say client. I don’t say participant. It’s the people we’re seeing. And I love being in that person-centered social model work and the work we’re doing. It’s a huge difference.

Josh Anderson:
It really is. And just the way that you get to deliver the services, and the services you get to deliver, I think, is so much better in that way. You can actually take the time to really make sure they can be successful, whatever those goals are.

Sue Redepenning:
Yeah, that training piece can happen. Whereas in the medical model, we didn’t always get to do the amount of training the person needed, because it was not getting approved by MA or by insurance. I’m glad to be able to do this, now, this way.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, I’m so glad someone else preaches that, because I preach the training part religiously around here, just because it is so important. It’s an expensive paperweight if you don’t know how to use it.

Sue Redepenning:
Exactly.

Josh Anderson:
If you buy an Amazon Echo device for somebody who’s never used any kind of technology, it’s not going to be any good. But if you know how to use it, it can really overcome some barriers. And just to throw that out as an example that anybody could go buy it at Home Depot down the street.

Sue Redepenning:
Right, but to know how to set it up for yourself is a different thing. Yeah. All of us have seen, when we worked in home health and when we worked in our other practices, assistive technology that was not being used. And sometimes it was really expensive technology, like a communication device. So when we started 10 years ago, we were all about not having our equipment be in the closet. We want it to be used and useful until it’s not needed anymore, and then it can be donated, or the whole time it’s needed.

Sue Redepenning:
We’ve worked really hard to… We have a lot of data with our grants to be able to show the state that it really is the assessment, the trials, and the training that is changing that abandonment. Because we do survey our people like two years after we’ve seen them, and they’re still using their technology. Or if they’re not, they have a reason why they don’t need it anymore. That’s huge, because usually when you go to people, a lot of that technology is not being used. Sometimes it’s the battery stopped working. Sometimes it’s just that they troubleshooted something, and they didn’t know how to fix it. It can be really small.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, for sure. For sure. But at least it’s not, “Well, no one ever showed me how to use this thing.”

Sue Redepenning:
Yes.

Josh Anderson:
We walk into a lot of situations, and I’m sure you do as well, where maybe they’ve had services before through some other program or something, and it was kind of like that. Hey, this is what you need. Here’s the device. Here’s how you turn it on. Have a good day. Or it’s got 25 other features that really would help them in life, but they never even knew they were there.

Sue Redepenning:
Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Josh Anderson:
Really being able to do that person-centered model is so nice. So nice.

Josh Anderson:
Sue, I have to ask you. You’re located in Minnesota, and I’m sure you probably provide some services on tribal lands. Now, I’ve worked with some individuals from different cultures in Indiana, and sometimes they’ll view disability or accommodations in different ways. Are there any special considerations or cultural things that need to be taken into account when working with the Native American population or on the tribal lands?

Sue Redepenning:
Yeah, so for the tribal lands and for anyone we see of a different culture, we really make sure we talk to the person and the family about that and not assume, because just like any of us, different people practice different things within their culture, too.

Sue Redepenning:
We ask a lot of questions to make sure that we’re being culturally sensitive, both in our work, how we address the person, how we work within their family, as well as the assistive technology that’s introduced. We do that with everyone.

Sue Redepenning:
On tribal land, when we’ve gone in areas to see people in Minnesota, it’s really important to ask what’s available to them, because it can be very different. Some of the areas we go to are so remote that having connectivity is not possible. There’s AT solutions we can bring, so we want to make sure we understand and know about all of those things ahead of time, so we’re not bringing things that I’ll rely on something that person doesn’t have, so asking those questions.

Sue Redepenning:
Making sure that we understand where the person wants us to meet. Oftentimes, especially when we go on tribal land, people want us to meet them at a community center first and get to know them or meet in a public place on tribal land and then enter into their home. But it’s very different. It’s very family driven, very person-centered.

Sue Redepenning:
We’ve done a lot of those accommodations based on our interviews with the family and the person. I think that’s really critical is to feel comfortable asking questions. Have that person and their family feel comfortable that you want to understand so you provide the best service to them.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. Excellent. I know you’ve had a lot of experience in the world of AT, but could you tell me a story or two that really stands out? I realize it’s hard to narrow down in such a career, but just for the sake of our listeners, do you have a few that you can tell us about?

Sue Redepenning:
Yeah, I can tell you some high-tech, mid-tech, and low-tech things.

Josh Anderson:
Perfect.

Sue Redepenning:
Because that’ll give you some good examples. So for low tech, I did see a woman who lives in our city’s area in one of our suburbs. She was like 72 when I saw her, and she was about ready to move into assisted living or some type of place where she could get more help. She didn’t want to leave her house, but she was starting to have falls, and they couldn’t figure out why she was falling. She had traditional clinic therapists come in to look, but they really weren’t getting at what was happening for her.

Sue Redepenning:
Her case manager asked us, through our grant, to be able to go in to see her, just to see if we could see if there was a technology solution or something people were missing. When I asked her where the falls were occurring, she said that right at that moment, most of them are occurring by her bed. So we looked at how she does her night chairs, because that’s where it was happening most of the time. I had her go through (Because I was in her home) all of what she does. It was really evident, almost right away, that she was overreaching for her light to be able to get her light on and then had to do her transfer. The overreach to the light was where the falls were occurring, and she didn’t even realize that.

Sue Redepenning:
The other place in the bathroom was another overreach for the lights. So we introduced the Hue light and Alexa, and that was her first introduction to assistive technology. Then we grouped everything so she could turn on what she needed to at night with her voice, and she could turn it back off when she went back to bed. She didn’t have another fall, and she was able to stay in her home. Then we were able to pivot off that and add other things she needed to be independent throughout the day.

Sue Redepenning:
So, that was like a-

Josh Anderson:
That’s cool.

Sue Redepenning:
Amazing solution. It wasn’t even very expensive, and she’s still living in her town home, and this is about five years later.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, nice.

Sue Redepenning:
Yeah, so that’s awesome. We have a person that, for a high-tech option, that we see. He was biking home from a college class to his dorm, and he got hit by a car. His injury was a significant spinal cord injury, so he is paralyzed from the neck down. We were able to help him, after he got out of rehab, to be able to move to a group home and then move to a home that his mom owns.

Sue Redepenning:
What we did is helped him to get assistive technology so that he could operate his computer, and he could keep going to school, and he could do gaming, which was really important to him, and that he would be able to do as many things around his group home or his house by himself as he could. Then we helped to get the adaptations to the home that his mom lives in so that he would be able to be as independent there. Now he has a ramp. He has a door opener. He has Alexa. He has blinds that are accessible through his voice. He can basically come home from college, and he can take care of himself till he needs physical care’s done.

Josh Anderson:
That is super cool.

Sue Redepenning:
Yes, that’s amazing. And then some of the medium technology we do can be like a communication devices. It can be a simple tablet that someone uses with just touching the tablet or a switch.

Sue Redepenning:
We saw a little girl who did have a tablet for communication, but they didn’t know how she would access it at first. They thought she would be able to touch it to be able to use it, and she wasn’t able to. So we came in with all different types of switches and found Proximity Switch, which is one where she just needs to get close to it to activate it. It also gives her an auditory response, so she knows it’s activated. That’s what it took. Then she was able to take off with that device to make choices and communicate. It seemed kind of medium simple, but in her area, the OTs didn’t know all the switches that were available to them.

Josh Anderson:
Awesome. Awesome. Well like I said, I bet we could probably spend the whole day just talking stories, and I’d love to interject some too, but people hear me every week. If our listeners would want to find out more about you or about Live Life Therapy Solutions, what’s the best way for them to do that?

Sue Redepenning:
Yeah, so we have a website. It’s livelifetherapysolutions.com. On our website, it shows all our consultants and all the backgrounds that we have and then a lot of the work that we’re doing. That’s the best place to go to be able to find out more about what we do. Then with remote and being able to remote-help people, we have helped some people in other states, too, if it can be remote. Otherwise, we are in the state of Minnesota.

Josh Anderson:
Well Sue, thank you so much for coming on today talking about your career in AT and as an OT, some of the great things you’ve done, as well as Live Life Therapy Solutions. Thank you, again.

Sue Redepenning:
Yes, thank you so much, Josh. It’s been great.

Josh Anderson:
Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on an assistive technology update? If so, call our listener line at (317) 721-7124. Send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org, or shoot us a note on Twitter @indataproject.

Josh Anderson:
Our captions and transcripts for the show are sponsored by the Indiana Telephone Relay Access Corporation, or INTRAC. You can find out more about INTRAC at relayindiana.com.

Josh Anderson:
A special thanks to Nikol Prieto for scheduling our amazing guests and making a mess of my schedule. Today’s show was produced, edited, hosted, and fraught over by yours truly.

Josh Anderson:
The opinions expressed by our guests are their own and may or may not reflect those of the INDATA Project, Easterseals Crossroads, our supporting partners, or this host. This was your assistive technology update, and I’m Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana.

Josh Anderson:
We look forward to seeing you next time. Bye-bye.

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