Friday, August 12, 2011

Brain-Injured Often Denied Therapies

I read an article published in The Dallas Morning News, Friday, August 12, 2011 with the title listed in the subject line of the blog. (Thanks to my hubby who always brings these articles to me!) This article points out a few facts that are exactly what is WRONG with our current system.

Problem #1--Gabriella Giffords--the AZ Congresswoman who was attacked/shot and received a terrible brain injury as a result--has received a lot of wonderful therapy that was developed for veterans who often come home with TBI (traumatic brain injury). Here is the problem---many vets don't get this therapy! Congress gives itself soooooo many privileges and this is really beyond outrageous. Why are veterans denied treatment when they put their lives on the line for us every day? Their families makes so much sacrifice and the least we can do is do our best to return their loved ones in the best possible condition. Congressional privilege---Problem #1!

Problem #2--Tricare (Insurance company that administers veteran benefits) denies treatment to veterans because they don't deem it medically necessary. The Department of Veterans Affairs has embraced rehabilitation for TBI, yet Tricare denies benefits. I have personally witnessed this. Problem #2---"Insurance companies don't want to pay for quality-of-life improvements". I don't think the ability to sleep through the night, have a normal relationship with your wife and children and be able to hold down a job are too much to ask!

Problem #3--The typical cost is $27,000 for one hour a day of treatment over six months! YIKES! You could hire a live-in aide for that amount of money! While I understand that some families need help because of the physical challenge of the situation, many of them can be trained to make a big difference themselves and then supplemented with a part-time aide. I am shocked that the VA doesn't have a system that is more cost-effective---except I'm not that surprised because government agencies don't have the best track record. Poor cost management---Problem #3!

Problem #4--The average veteran receives only three weeks of therapy. This is ridiculous! Three weeks is not long enough to make substantial changes. I am delighted for clients who make big changes in six months and they are usually children, who generally progress faster. Three weeks = weak sauce = Problem #4!

So here is my take:

#1--I think Congress shouldn't have special privileges, but the military should. Period.

#2--Quality of life is absolutely a medically-necessary situation. We have to return library books in good condition, the military shouldn't be any less.

#3--$27,000 could get hyperbaric, a home program and a part-time aide for six months. We should be careful with the money that is dedicated to our veterans. It would not be hard to make this happen---I personally know people lobbying Congress through the Department of Defense to make this happen. It's been over 10 years and the battle continues. The people soaking money out of the system are VEHEMENTLY opposing these common-sense measures. It should stop and stop NOW!

#4--It sometimes takes several years for children to completely make the way to wellness. We don't put a time limit on them. Their worth is never limited by time. If we are using the available resources WISELY, then we could make sure vets can progress at a good rate without placing time limits on them.

I hope we'll also consider some of these lessons for our children who are struggling---let's dedicate our resources to efforts that get good results and make the best results of our family resources. Let's be devoted to their wellness and stay the course for them.

If you want more information about veterans and the crisis of traumatic brain injuries for them, please visit and read the NBIRR study information on the page. Then contact your Congressional Representatives and Senators.