Brain trauma can incapacitate a person and make it impossible for that person to work. Brain trauma is therefore a qualifying injury for Social Security Disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits. Disability benefits can help pay for the medical expenses associated with brain trauma and ease the financial stress on a brain trauma victim’s family.
At least 1.7 million Americans suffer brain trauma each year from car crashes, strokes, assaults, and falls, among other things. Approximately 50,000 of U.S. brain trauma victims die, 230,000 are hospitalized, and 90,000 survive with long-term disabilities, USA Today reports.
One of the most famous brain trauma victims in the United States is congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords suffered a brain injury when she was shot in the head while meeting with constituents in a store.
Giffords received state-of-the-art rehabilitation care under the federal Workmen’s Compensation Act because she was injured while carrying out her work as a congresswoman, but she feels that such services should be widely available. Giffords office is now lobbying the Obama administration to make rehabilitation available for all Americans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Currently insurance benefits for brain trauma rehab are limited and inconsistent, USA Today reports. When insurance coverage runs out many patients are put into nursing homes or sent to live with relatives. Studies show that providing appropriate rehabilitation care can decrease the amount of long-term consequences of a brain injury and thereby reduce the amount of people who most rely on disability payments.
Providing appropriate rehab for brain injury victims is also cheaper than putting patients in nursing homes or paying for 24-hour home care according to the director of neuropsychology at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute.
Source: USA Today, “Gabrielle Giffords’ office puts focus on brain-injury care,” Steve Sternberg, 4/8/11