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Insuring Independence: Securing Comprehensive Coverage for Spinal Cord Injury Care
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Insuring Independence: Securing Comprehensive Coverage for Spinal Cord Injury Care

Insuring Independence: Securing Comprehensive Coverage for Spinal Cord Injury Care

There are few injuries that can be as devastating and life-changing as spinal cord injuries (SCIs). An SCI can strip away a person’s independence and security, as well as their hopes for the future and sense of self. 

When a person who has lived their entire lives walking, running, playing sports, and doing for themselves has those abilities suddenly and catastrophically taken from them, it can send their entire lives into upheaval. Often, the emotional, financial, and mental damage can be just as difficult to recover from as the physical damage. 

Anthony Purcell lives with the all-encompassing challenges of SCI every day. His entire life was altered the morning of February 6, 2010, when he decided to take a dive into the choppy waters of Miami Beach — something he had done hundreds of times before. His dive that morning, however, was different. He misjudged the depth of the water into which he was diving, directly hitting a sandbar, and the impact of his landing broke his neck and bruised the C5 and C6 vertebrae in his spine. 

Paralyzed by the accident, Anthony was unable to make it out of the water on his own. The quick actions of his cousin and the paramedics who quickly arrived saved his life, but everyone knew his journey toward recovery was going to be a long road. 

As Anthony began intense physical therapy, he realized that gaps in insurance coverage, inaccessibility of certain types of care, and financial limitations were severely affecting SCI patients everywhere. Though he was able to continue therapy after the insurance ran out, he realized that not all those with SCIs are as fortunate. Along with his mother, Micki Purcell, Anthony vowed to do something about it. 

Walking With Anthony

Anthony and his mother found the ongoing access issues to comprehensive coverage for SCI care and effective treatments led to a level of depressed resignation they were not willing to accept. While doctors were preparing Anthony to accept that he would simply be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life and have ongoing limitations, he was determined to seek out hope. Along with the help of his mother, the two began Walking With Anthony to give others with SCI the hope that seemed to be in such short supply.

“Realizing Anthony’s lack of hope and purpose was just as dangerous as his physical condition, I challenged him to make a difference in the lives of others by raising awareness,” says Micki. “As my son reached out, his mental outlook improved. Day by day, his gains in mental wellness brought new physical achievements.”

Coming from a place of understanding the unique struggles of those with SCIs, Anthony began to reach out to others in the community. Through the mission of Walking With Anthony, hundreds of people with spinal cord injuries have found hope, social and financial support, and information about comprehensive coverage for their recovery.

“No one plans to fall victim to a spinal cord injury,” says Anthony. “The sudden and always unexpected nature of such a debilitating injury brings with it many urgent, immediate needs and expenses.” 

Helping with the unexpected 

Comprehensive care for SCI through traditional health insurance can often fall short, as Anthony and his mother soon learned. “After six weeks in the hospital and only 20 days of rehab, and before Anthony could even support himself in a wheelchair, someone on the staff tapped me on the shoulder to let me know our insurance coverage had run out,” Micki recalls. “I learned our time in rehab was over 24 hours before the doors slammed behind us.”

Though the Purcell family was fortunate enough to bootstrap the remaining balance of Anthony’s care, the stress of the sudden massive expense and the unknown future caused them to experience feelings of depression and hopelessness — feelings that both Anthony and Micki wanted to keep others with SCI and their families from experiencing. 

Through Walking With Anthony, those experiencing sudden spinal cord injuries can gain access to help with those initial financial emergencies. The goal is to have the most basic tasks and necessities covered in those all-important early days of recovery so those with SCIs can move forward with more hope and less stress. 

Lifetime costs for spinal cord injuries can often reach into the millions, and the initial costs after insurance runs out can easily bankrupt families before the injured person has even returned to their daily life. Insurance coverage for necessary therapies that help those with SCIs live fuller, more productive lives frequently falls woefully short. Often, insurance companies will not cover the 10 hours of required therapy per week that those with SCIs need to regain strength in their upper bodies and live more independently, leaving many with SCIs to make hard choices week by week to either receive necessary therapy or pay their basic monthly expenses. 

“Walking With Anthony helps cover the cost of that essential rehab therapy, so people suffering from an SCI can face the challenge of physical recovery while having freedom from the relentless financial weight of paying for rehab,” Anthony explains. In addition to covering therapies, Walking With Anthony helps obtain special equipment and in-home assistance for those with SCIs. The organization has created a supportive community where people with spinal cord injuries can get guidance and friendship from those who understand. 

Through their organization’s platform, Anthony and his mother hope that along with coverage for necessary therapies, they can bring hope, freedom from depression, and peace of mind to those with spinal cord injuries. Extending this lifeline to the community has been as healing for Anthony as it has been for those the foundation has helped. 

“We’re seeking to change the recovery outcomes for those with spinal cord injuries,” Anthony remarks. “We want to help them on a more personal level. That’s why I get up in the morning.”

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