Q: What Do You Do When You've Hit a Stopping Point in Your Recovery?
Sadly, there comes a time but after a spinal cord injury when your recovery comes to a stop. Sometimes this is out of your control, usually when your insurance says they will no longer pay for your therapy. For most people, this occurs within months after their injury. Very rarely will insurance continue to pay for therapy years after a spinal cord injury.
This however does not stop people from trying their hardest to get their insurance to do what is right. Some people successfully by the decision made by their insurance company NRA able to continue their therapy for a little bit longer. At rehabilitation centers like the Courage Center, they offer their ABLE Program, which is an activity-based therapy program that is covered by Medicaid.
Many people are able to go to this therapy program years after their injury. There is a two-year limit however on this program as well. This is just one example of how no matter your situation, having your therapy pay for the rest of your life is highly unusual. This is unfortunate because more and more evidence suggests that continued therapy can produce continued recovery. Especially if the therapy is activity therapy based.
Just because your insurance will no longer pay for your therapy does not mean you shouldn’t have some kind of therapy in your life. There are options on the table that you should consider. Do not let your insurance dictate your future when it comes to your recovery. It is time to get creative. Check out some options below.
Get Free PT/OT from a Nearby University
Many universities and colleges that have therapy programs for physical and occupational therapy warmly welcome people with disabilities to attend their teaching therapy classes on campus. This can be a great opportunity to have students try the latest innovative therapies on you that they may have learned in the classroom. Inquire with the university to see what they can offer you.
Create a Home Therapy Plan
This is by far one of the most popular options for people with spinal cord injuries who decide it continues their therapy for the rest of their lives. Many people create a home gym some were in their home, whether it's in their garage, a spare bedroom, or even outside in a new she-shed. Wherever you build for the therapy area, make sure to consult a physical therapist and an occupational therapist for their input.
They can even create a home therapy plan for you so you can make sure you are doing everything in the best way possible to help your recovery. You should also consult an active be-based therapy gym to see if they also offer any guidance was creating home therapy plans. At your home gym, we recommend buying a standing frame as well. This is an item that can help greatly with many secondary side effects of your injury.
Functional electronic stimulation is also something you can do at home even though there is a greater cost. And if you're looking for additional assistance at home, consider hiring a personal trainer. This can also be a student who is going to school for physical therapy or a retired therapist. Look on social media for anyone interested in helping you as well, but make sure to screen interested people carefully.
Explore New Adaptive Sports and Recreation
For some people whose insurance no longer pays for therapy, they turn to a new adaptive sport and/or recreation idea to continue to move their bodies on a regular basis. Wheelchair basketball is popular among paraplegics for keeping up their cardio and moving their upper body. For many people with quadriplegia, they fall in love with quad rugby which is similar to basketball that doesn't require triceps. Hand-cycling by far is one of the most popular sports among people of all SCI levels. Powered handbikes exist for those with limited/no arm movement. This is not only great for cardio but is great for socialization as well.
Adaptive recreation opportunities are another great way to stay moving. Adaptive skiing, archery, swimming, yoga, weight training, hockey, and a multitude of other adaptive rec options exist. For many people, just moving their body on a regular basis is important enough as the years' progress after their injury.
It is up to you to decide how structured you want your therapy/daily movement to be.
Never Give Up
It is important to remember that therapy is a lifetime project. You can always move on to returning to work and amping up your family/social life but still commit yourself to therapy. For many who are newly injured, this is the new mindset – therapy never stops. Nothing but good can come from continued therapy, as amazing recovery can happen even 15 years post-injury. Workout, stay healthy, hopefully, you’ll see some recovery; minimal or more; just stay realistic with your goals.
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Spinal Cord Team