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01 December 2011

Stouffer: New Video Shows Personal Perspective

It was a day just like today that our lives were changed forever: I received a phone call from my wife, saying she had been hurt.

As Sue Ellen puts it, when she started that backward fall off a horse on our farm, she knew her life was changed forever. The injury was more severe than we realized.

After several days in the hospital, we realized our Sue Ellen would never be the same. Thirty years ago, people did not survive these types of injuries. Today, some individuals suffering from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) may return to a normal life with the right care and quick, complete rehabilitation.

The first 18 months following a traumatic brain injury are the most important; if folks do not receive rehabilitation during that time, then those who are injured may never return to the workforce or a normal life. For us, this accident meant the woman that helped care for my two sons and me for decades was the one who needed nursing back to health.

Those who are fortunate to have the resources or help to receive comprehensive day-to-day rehabilitation — like Sue Ellen — may learn how to walk again, learn how to make change in a financial transaction and perform other normal daily functions of life that we all take for granted. Not every victim of a TBI is as lucky to return to a normal life like Sue Ellen. We consider ourselves blessed.

For TBI victims who are currently uninsured, lack adequate coverage, or do not qualify for Medicaid, rehabilitation is not readily available. This makes a return to normal life nearly impossible. For this reason, I have worked hard to promote comprehensive day-to-day rehabilitation for those Missourians who qualify for MO HealthNet (Medicaid).

While these expenses are substantial, the cost of these folks not returning to the workforce is much higher. This would include paying for their daily needs in addition to skilled or assisted care at thousands of dollars a month for a lifetime.

Some states use fees and other revenues to fund this type of service for those in need. This includes collections from those driving while intoxicated or involved in other high-risk or illegal activities that are more likely to cause this type of injury.

The Director of the Center for Head Injury Services, Donna Gunning, explains that it is hard to think this could happen to you or your loved one, saying, “It is easy for people in decision-making positions to think that this will never affect them or their family. But if it does, they would want these services for their family.”

For us, comprehensive day-to-day rehabilitation meant we could have my wife, the kids’ mother and a very special friend back. However, our neighbors who suffer this type of injury and lack the resources to pay for this type of service, their lives will never be the same. The long-term costs to taxpayers to meet their needs will also be substantial.

For more information, I encourage you to watch some videos regarding this by searching “A Victory for Today.” Fellow legislators can also watch a similar video entitled “A Message to Missouri Legislators.” Please use quotations around both phrases to narrow your search.

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