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Wall Street Journal Article is Scathing Attack on Insurance Company Attitudes on Brain Injury Rehabilitation

Today's Wall Street Journal contains a front page story on cognitive brain injury rehabilitation entitled "Why Some Patients Get No Help After Brain Injury". 

The story is a scathing indictment of the callous attitude of insurance companies to the care and rehabilitation of survivors of brain trauma.  The Wall Street Journal should be applauded for this comprehensive look at this overlooked issue.  This is the first of what I hope is many more stories on how and why the "silent epidemic" of brain injury is the stepchild of health care.

The stories that are detailed in this article are only the tip of the iceberg.  Unfortunately,  those who receive appropriate cognitive rehabilitation are in the minority.  The vast majority of the walking wounded NEVER receive the therapy they so desperately need.

Also released today by the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) to coincide with this story was their position paper on cognitive rehabilitation entitled, "Cognitive Rehabilitation: The Evidence, Funding and Case for Advocacy in Brain Injury." 

The Brain Injury Association of America's position statement calls on lawmakers and private sector payers to eliminate barriers to access and delivery of cognitive rehabilitation treatment for patients with acquired brain injuries.

Here is what the association said about the current state of brain injury rehabilitation:

"Cognitive rehabilitation can help people regain their independence, but many insurance companies deny coverage claims and public health agencies limit the scope, duration and timing of treatment. Patients with brain injury and family caregivers suffer because of lack of access to this important treatment modality"

I couldn't agree more.  Time and time again I see brain injury victims treated as if rehabilitation following a brain injury was no different than rehab following a broken bone. Essential treatment is limited in scope and even tragically denied.  Brain injury patient's are denied access to essential treatment and often their essential treatment is prematurely terminated.

BIAA advocates the following priorities to provide a more comprehensive continuum of care for brain-injured patients:

  • Expanded public and private payer coverage of sufficient scope, duration and intensity to accommodate the changing and long-term needs of patients with brain injury   
  • Expanded clinical education and certification for allied health practitioners who work with brain-injured patients Increased emphasis on research
    Improved integration of cognitive treatment in public vocational and social services
  • Greater attention to the particular needs of brain-injured children in special education

Hopefully this article and the association's position statement will focus needed attention on a true public health crisis.

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