TBI Treatment Coverage Should NOT Be “Optional”

Lt. Cdr. Scott Mitchell, officer-in-charge of the Carl R. Darnall Traumatic Brain Injury clinic at Fort Hood, Texas, helps a patient practice with a balance board at the clinic’s Functional Rehabilitation Center

Unless people are living under a rock – which I guess a lot of people are – the question of whether or not TBI treatment should be accessible to all should NOT be optional.

Neither should it be at the discretion of insurance companies.

I know that we’re “still learning” about effective treatments, and the science is still out on some of them, but there are enough approaches out there that have shown great results, that it should NOT a question of whether or not to treat TBI — rather how best to treat TBI.

Of course, no insurance company is going to go for this, right now. But at the same time, I would think that some private foundation or non-profit would realize how important it is to pony up the funds to treat this very treatable condition. Yes, it can be chronic and long-term. Yes, there will likely be ongoing needs and maintenance activities. But it is manageable with the right approach(es), and I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t simply be done.

Let’s do the math around this.

Say you’ve got a qualified, productive worker who holds down a job that makes them $50,000 a year. They participate in life, with their income flowing back into the economy, and their presence contributing to society’s overall health. Say they have a family — a spouse and a couple of kids, a mortgage, a college savings / retirement fund, and a couple of cars in the garage. Their spouse has a job that earns the same $50,000.

All in all, their total “dollar value” to society is around $100K – plus the interest from their credit cards and the long-term value of their college expenditures. And that’s not including the intangible value they bring to their community. They contribute to the well-being of their employer, and they make their company’s ongoing success possible.

Now, let’s throw TBI into the mix.

Long story short, they lose their job in the six months after their injury. The employer is in it for $100,000 (which is the cost to replace a seasoned worker), and they’ve also lost a top performer who contributed a lot to their ongoing success.

The spouse is now carrying the whole financial burden for the family, as well as everyday logistics, which puts a strain on them and makes it practically impossible for them to function at their customary level at work. The spouse’s employer has now also lost a valuable member of their workforce, and between the time lost to caring for the now-disabled spouse and their reduced productivity, the employer has taken a hit.

Our TBI survivor goes on disability, which costs the government x-number of dollars, and their behavioral, cognitive, and other related problems at home cause their kids a ton of problems, so they end up acting out at school, which puts another drain on the overall system. The kids need counseling, which puts another strain on the system, and given the hell that goes on at home, it’s anybody’s guess whether it’s actually going to work.

Eventually, the TBI survivor does something really “brain-injured” in the presence of the wrong person, and they end up in jail. They go into the legal system, and eventually they end up in prison. That’s another $100K per year society needs to spot them for. And that’s not even accounting for further problems with the kids.

Any number of wretched scenarios can come out of this. And it happens everyday. With people of all walks — and especially veterans (why, by the way, sacrificed so my for US, so that WE can live in peace and prosperity).

All this happens because TBI treatment is in the dark ages… and the techniques that have been shown to work — or at least show promise — have been marginalized as “fringe” so that self-respecting doctors everywhere shy away from them.

As a society, we get what we deserve when we allow this to persist.

But the TBI survivors and their loved-ones? What exactly did they do to deserve it?

The idea that treatment is “unavailable” and inaccessible because of cost is unconscionable.  Yes, some of the treatments are expensive. But people pay far more for things like cars and bottles of wine, than TBI recovery for one person would ever cost. The money is there. And the opportunity for a real “return on our investment” is there, as well.

It just needs to be a priority.

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Joe Rogan Experience #574 – Dr. Mark Gordon, Matthew Gosney & Jason Hall

Talking about the work Dr. Mark Gordon is doing with vets

The fixable connection between TBI problems and the endocrine system

Read more here: http://www.warriorangelsfoundation.org/warrior-treatment.php

A day that didn’t start with exercise…

… sadly did not go well 😦

I decided this morning to forego my 20 minute bike ride and just get on with my day, but I found myself frittering away the hours doing this and that, rather than the project I am tasked with completing.

I also had a major meltdown this afternoon over changes in scheduling and unexpected things I had to do. It wasn’t pretty, and I felt like a complete and utter fool after the fact.

Oh, well. Tomorrow is another day. I’m headed out of town to a family event, which should be interesting. But the long drive there and back will be welcome. It will be good to get out of town for a while.

I’m looking forward to starting fresh in the a.m. Even if I only ride for 15 minutes, at least I can get a jump-start on the day.

On a related note, I came across this blog post the other day — Tired, Stressed, Fat and Depressed: What You Need to Know About Cortisol (New Video) It talks about how the one thing that will help you deal with cortisol is exercise and getting plenty of sleep.

I’d be interested to hear how cortisol and TBI intersect. Surely, there must be information somewhere. For that matter, I’d like to know how TBI and the endocrine system interrelate. I’ve heard that TBI can lead to major endocrine system dysfunction/upset, but it’s not widely known or understood.

Makes sense to me — the glands in the brain (and elsewhere) that produce all those chemicals must be pretty finely tuned (for example, the thyroid drives the whole body’s metabolic system on about a teaspon of its hormone each year — yes, a teaspoon-full of TSH does the trick for the entire body)… so if the brain’s finely interconnected circuits are re-routed, surely it must do something to the overall functioning.

Or maybe I’m crazy… being an undereducated lay-person, after all. I’m sure there are plenty of experts out there who can tell me/you better and/or different. But common sense tells me there must be a connection.

Anyway, it’s getting late (for me), and I need to get ready for this big trip. I just hope I’ll be able to sleep. I’ll have to see if the motel I’m staying at has an exercise bike and/or gym. Here’s hoping…