“He’s in a nursing home,” my friend got teary eyed. Her best friend, John, became addicted to pain pills after a bad fall that broke his neck earlier this year. “He doesn’t have insurance. He was getting therapy at Beaumont hospital and making progress, and didn’t have the coverage to continue. The nursing home is really far, I haven’t been able to see him,” she explained. I’ve heard stories like this before. My other friend was surprised. Many people with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) cannot get the adequate care they need to recover. It’s so tragic. “We had a fundraiser, and raised $11,000 dollars. His wheelchair alone cost $37,000,” she continued.
Lifetime costs of someone with SCI are anywhere from $1,000,000 to $5,000,000, depending upon their level of injury. In Michigan, we have something called “no-fault” insurance. This usually applies to automobile coverage, in which accident victims receive direct payment from the company with which they themselves are insured. No matter whose fault it is. It relieves a lot of tension, and avoids hassle.
I also had an accident. While crossing the street on my way to school, at sixteen years old, I was hit by a car. It was auto-related. I was a minor, and my father had insurance at the time. Thus, for life, I am covered for physical therapies, or any appointments related to my accident because Michigan has no-fault insurance.
We are one of a few states that has it. There is a battle to try to ban it. If that were to happen, people would have a limited number of physical therapy sessions per year. I’ve completed maybe several hundred hours of physical therapy. A “fixed” number of therapy sessions would not be enough. How could anyone get out of a wheelchair and walk, with a fixed number of therapy sessions? With a spinal cord injury it would be hard.
The problem is, people like John, and others whose stories I’ve heard either exhaust their savings, or simply cannot afford to get well. I met a guy who fell from a tree while hunting, and became spinal cord injured. He was athletic, a gym teacher, and no one would’ve thought. He had a fundraiser, as did John, but how much can fundraisers cover with the outrageous rising costs of healthcare and physical therapy? It’s almost as if you have to be a millionaire, to get injured. Only then could you afford it.
Motor vehicle crashes account for 40.4% of reported SCI cases. The next most common cause is falls at 27.9%, acts of violence at 15.0%, recreational sporting activities 8.0%, and other/unknown 8.5% – according to Mikeutley.org
Physical therapy can cost anywhere from $100-150 dollars per hour. Sometimes more! I’m blessed to have coverage. I receive physical therapy now two times a week. I go to the gym alone the other times. I thank God I’m healthy. Now I am able to walk with forearm crutches. I’m hoping to recover enough to walk with no walking device. But what if my circumstances were different? What if my injury had been worse? What if my accident wasn’t auto-related, or my father didn’t have insurance? What if I was not in Michigan, and in a state that didn’t have no-fault?