Congresswoman Giffords Explains That She Likely Gets Better Traumatic Brain Injury Care Than Others
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is likely the nation’s most famous traumatic brain injury victim. The tragic attack that caused her injury as well as her public recovery has led many Americans to truly see the impact of these injuries first-hand. Of course our Chicago brain injury lawyers know that this publicity is incredibly helpful as a way to focus attention on a problem that plagues hundreds of thousands of community members every year. Just last week the First Lady announced a large new initiative which seeks to provide increasing resources to medical professionals who are working both to prevent and treat traumatic brain injuries. If these trends continue hopefully very important advances can be made to actually help improve the lives of victims.
Yet, with all the publicity surrounding Congresswoman Giffords’s situation, many observers might get the wrong impression about the resources available to other brain injury victims—those without the platform, publicity, or resources of Giffords. The sad truth is that many (most) victims of traumatic brain injury have nowhere near the quality of care provided to the Congresswoman. In the aftermath of the tragedy the very best brain injury care was provided to Giffords. Then, in the weeks and months after the event, the top of the line full spectrum of treatment, rehabilitation, and therapies have been provided which have allowed her to make what seems to be a miraculous recovery. She still faces many challenges, particularly when it comes to communication, but it is unmistakable that she has made progress that no one would have thought possible from someone who received a gunshot to the head only a year earlier.
Now Congresswoman Giffords is taking her experience to the public policy arena by championing proper brain injury treatments for all those in similar situations. She fully understands that most community members do not have nearly he access that she does to prolonged, quality treatment and therapy. Instead, as so many local families have explained to our brain injury lawyers, insurance companies usually only cover the bare minimum of stabilization care. Few families are able to secure permanent therapy which, as Congresswoman Giffords case shows, is absolutely essential to allowing an injured brain to recover as much as possible.
A Tucson Sentinel story this week noted that the average American with one of these injuries faces two problems: lack of information about the best courses of treatment and a lack of resources to have access to those courses of treatment. The costs alone can be staggering. As a new research project from the National Institute of Health explained, treatments for a single brain injury victim can run as high as $2 million to $4 million. When the injury is caused by the negligence of another, it is obviously appropriate for those costs to be borne by the one who created the problem. That is where the civil justice system comes into play.
As it stands now, according to the Brain Injury Association of America president, what treatment a victim receives is heavily dependent on “your state, insurance plan (or lack of one), hospital and the people advocating for you.” For example, while most insurance plans cover the life-saving surgeries often needed directly after an accident, fewer cover the prolonged rehabilitation which is necessary for mental and physical recovery.
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