The Economics and Ethics of Inclusive Seating in Aircrafts for Patients with Mobility Devices: Michael Lewis, MA


The director of disability policy at the Muscular Dystrophy Association talked about the future possibility of having an aircraft that accommodates for patients with neuromuscular disorders who use mobility devices. [WATCH TIME: 3 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 3 minutes

"While business critics foresee billions in lost revenue, failing to adapt to the demands of an aging demographic could cost airlines even more money in the long run. Therefore, inclusive aircraft seating is not just a social responsibility, it's an investment in the future, benefiting both passengers with mobility devices and the financial sustainability of the airline industry."

Mobility device technology such as wheelchairs and scooters assist patients with neuromuscular diseases in helping them interact with people in their day-to-day life and get to the places where they want to be. Lack of access to this technology can have adverse developmental consequences on the patients, especially for pediatric patients with these diseases, as the mobility device can also serve to facilitate development.1 In terms of improving accessibility for these mobile devices, it is up to stakeholders and patient advocates for promoting more inclusive environments to change policy for the patients that use them.

At the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM) meeting, held November 1-4, in Phoenix, Arizona, Michael Lewis, MA, director of disability policy at the Muscular Dystrophy Association, presented a lecture on how clinicians can advance access to care and improve health equality for patients with neuromuscular disease beyond the clinical setting. During his talk, he mentioned how outdated policies affect patients with neuromuscular diseases in terms of employment and education as well as discussed the complexities of air travel for wheelchair users, with the potential of a bill to improve accessibility.

Recently, Lewis sat down in an interview with NeurologyLive® at the meeting to discuss how the aviation industry can balance the immediate cost concerns of inclusive seating with the long-term financial gains from tapping into the market of aging travelers. He also talked about how the reluctance of airlines to invest in inclusive seating could jeopardize their competitiveness in serving the increasing number of passengers with mobility issues, especially among the aging baby boomer demographic. Additionally, Lewis explained how policymakers and the aviation industry can work collaboratively to shift the perception of inclusive design from a financial burden to a strategic investment in meeting evolving travel demands.

For more information on how to get involved in advocating for patients with neuromuscular diseases with the Muscular Dystrophy Association click here.

Click here for more coverage on AANEM 2023.

1. Lin W, Pierce A, Skalsky AJ, McDonald CM. Mobility-assistive technology in progressive neuromuscular disease. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2012;23(4):885-894. doi:10.1016/j.pmr.2012.08.007
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