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How the military is responding to soldiers in the vegetative state. Some lessons for insurance companies.

USA Today has a front page story on recent military efforts regarding the treatment of victims of brain trauma who are in the vegetative state For Troops With Brain Trauma, A Long Journey Back . 

The story provides an indepth analsyis on the emergence of brain injury survivors from the vegetative state, the first stage of recovery following a coma and sheds some light on this promising area of research.The military should be commended for not merely warehousing persons in the Vegetative State but continuing to fund long-term rehabilitation.  It is obvious that the combination of active therapies along with family engagement shows incredible promise.

Unfortunately, this same approach has not yet been accepted and adopted by insurance companies and government sponsored medical care for the rest of the general population.  The majority of individuals who are traumatically injured are young, with many years ahead of them but could never hope to receive the rehabilitation that they require. 

The arbitrary limit of thirty or even ninety days to determine the efficacy of coma recovery rehabilitation is not borne out by the evidence that has been revealed by the VA studies and protocol. That policy merely provides a simple cost-saving device for the insurance companies without allowing sufficient time and therapies to adequately assess extent of possible recovery.

Brain injury recovery cannot be measured in days or months.  It is difficult to predict when recovery will take place and the full extent of that recovery. To deny these individuals a reasonable chance of recovery is a shameful commentary on the allocation and availability of medical resources, especially in light of the positive findings of the VA. 

Brain injury should not be a death sentence.  We have made astonishing progress in saving lives, now we must spend the same resources in repairing and rebuilding those lives.

It’s wonderful to save a life.  Society then has an obligation and responsibility to rehabilitate that person so that he/she can achieve maximum recovery.

We must devote our research and efforts to providing an approach that will focus on the individual and his/her needs.

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