Insurers limit treatment for brain injury sufferers

Of all the types of injuries that Nashville residents suffer in traffic accidents, perhaps the least understood and hardest to treat are traumatic brain injuries. To casual observers, people living with brain injury may look fine; they may have no visible scars, they may be able to carry on brief conversations. At the same time, they may have lingering effects from the injury that make it hard for them to remember things, plan for the future, hold down employment, live independently or truly connect with loved ones.

Unfortunately, the public doesn't always understand the special needs of people with brain injuries. And often, insurance companies don't either.

One family recently spoke to the news media about their struggle to get their 20-year-old daughter the therapy she needs to recover from a traumatic brain injury she sustained in a skiing accident this January. Doctors recommended the young woman begin cognitive rehabilitation, a kind of treatment that has shown great success with high-profile patients such as former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The doctors estimated that the young woman would need more than 18 months of treatment, but the family's insurance stopped paying for it after only four months.

Many families face the same problem. Researchers say that cognitive rehabilitation is most effective in the first 18 to 24 months after a brain injury, but many patients can't afford it and many insurers won't pay for it, or have set caps on the amount they will pay.

When a brain injury is the result of an accident caused by someone else's negligence, the injured may be compensated for medical expenses, rehabilitation, lost wages and other costs through a personal injury lawsuit. Nashville families struggling to help a loved one with brain injury should get help understanding their legal rights and options.

Source: KERO, "Brain injury patients fight for therapy time and money," Jeremy Olson, Aug. 19, 2013

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