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Missouri patients with brain injuries face long road

When an individual in Missouri sustains a serious brain injury, the focus is rightfully on the immediate aftermath of the incident and the emergency treatment options. In the days and weeks following the event, friends and family gather to support the patient, and to wait for news of the long term prognosis for recovery. While brain injuries fall along a wide scale in terms of severity, for many the eventual outcome involves the need for long term care.

A recently released report looked at data from Medicare and Medicaid, and asserts that almost 244,000 brain-injured individuals are currently residing in nursing homes. The conditions in these facilities can also fall anywhere along a wide scale, but almost all such facilities are geared toward the needs of their elderly patients. Very few are staffed with care providers well-versed with the needs of brain injured patients, and those that can provide that level of care at the top of the price range.

Further complicating the matter is the fact that most Americans do not have insurance coverage that will pay for treatment at brain injury rehabilitation centers. Coverage also rarely covers home care or group residences. Medicaid will pay for care in facilities that are not nursing homes, but there are only 19,000 spaces available nationwide, and the waiting list for one of those slots can exceed five years in some states.

This scenario demonstrates that while the immediate aftermath of a traumatic brain injury involves a great deal of decision-making, attention must also be paid to the long-term needs of patients with brain injuries. In cases in which the injury was caused by the negligence of another party, Missouri patients and their families have legal options. A successful personal injury lawsuit can insure that the patient receives sufficient damages to cover the cost of all projected long-term care needs.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "Brain-Injured Languish in Homes: No Giffords Care," David Armstrong, Dec. 28, 2012

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