Last week, Congresswoman Giffords went on national television and spoke about her ordeal. What she did took a lot of courage. She gave the public a look into the scary world of brain injury. By speaking candidly, she gave hope to the victims and families of TBI. Her interview also created some consequences.
The day after the interview aired, I began hearing families demand the same care the congresswoman got. I don't know if this happened anywhere else but it wouldn't surprise me if it did. Each time I heard the statement, I was in the NICU assessing new TBI patients. In each instance the patients were non-responsive. They have a long way to go before any meaningful therapy can begin.
What these families don't understand is that every injury is different and recovery takes a long time. They saw only the end result. Therapy like that must be paid for. Congresswoman Giffords had excellent insurance. Most people do not. Many don't even have insurance. Even when therapy is covered, insurances limit what can be done and for how long. I can't think of one carrier who would pay for the level and intensity of therapy she received.
Another family member told me her son wasn't going to leave the hospital until he could walk out of there just like the congresswoman. The congresswoman walked out of a rehab facility, not an acute-care hospital. I don't know where that young man will walk again or not. If he does it will be out of a rehabilitation facility, not my place of employment.
I could give other examples of things I've heard in the last week resulting from that interview. The sad reality is that the congresswoman got the best therapy money could buy at an intensity level above and beyond what patients normally receive. As a result, she had an excellent outcome from her injury. No one begrudges her that. The viewing public wasn't made aware of what went into her recovery. It only saw the end result.
Obviously families and victims of TBI are looking for any hope they can find. Seeing someone who made such a wonderful recovery makes them want the same thing. If it worked for one person, it should word for another. That just isn't possible. The congresswoman was a special case. I'm glad for her. I can only imagine what she went through. I'm sure she had the best intentions with her interview. Sometimes the best of intentions have unintended consequences.