Activity Based Training for Spinal Cord Injuries
Average Yearly Spinal Cord Injury Costs
The average yearly expenses (health care costs and living expenses) and the estimated lifetime costs that are directly attributable to Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) vary greatly based on age, education, neurological impairment, and pre-injury employment history.
Initial costs like ambulance, surgery, hospital stay, inpatient rehab, mobility equipment are typically covered in part by one’s health insurance. However, the uninsured expenses begin to mount upon discharge as returning home in a wheelchair requires many accommodations and modifications. From new transportation needs, home renovation and nursing care to maintaining optimum health to avoid life threatening setbacks, these uninsured costs escalate quickly.
The hidden costs of wellness through exercise can be daunting. Activity-Based Training (ABT) is not covered by insurance and cost on average $100/hour. The most optimized commitment to regain neurological connection for those with an SCI is 2-4 hours of training/day. One can see how costs can escalate quickly for those dedicated to improving their paralysis.
Some believe that Stem Cell injections can reverse paralysis, but that is not considered a cure and is still undergoing extensive trials here in the US. With the non-invasive benefits of ABT, there is much to celebrate with improved circulation, muscle tone, spasm reduction, and even reigniting neurological connections. The only caveat is the cost as it is out of pocket / self pay.
Activity Based Training Is Not
Currently Covered By Insurance
SCI treatment currently focuses on preventing further injury and empowering people with a spinal cord injury to return to an active and productive life. Rehabilitation and exercise are key to enhancing a person’s health and quality of life.
Activity-based therapies (ABTs) also referred to as activity-based restorative therapy (ABRT) includes any exercise therapy activity, rehabilitation, or intervention. It is focused on improving muscle function and sensory perception for the paralysis and sensory loss due to spinal cord injury (SCI), to improve overall function after SCI. With ABTs, spinal cord injury patients can first regain feeling and over time, movement in the areas affected by the injury.
Currently, over 1,462,220 people suffer from spinal cord injury paralysis in the United States with only an average of 36 days spent in rehab before being discharged home.
ABTs work by assigning task-specific movements to improve activation of the neuromuscular system below the injury level. This treatment helps to stimulate the central state of excitability, also known as your spine. Therapies are also repetitive which is important in neurological rehab. The more times you practice doing an activity correctly, the more likely you will do this same activity with ease in real life. When the injury has produced a higher level of paralysis, patients may also undergo functional electrical stimulation therapy (FES) to kick-start the spine’s central pattern generator as the person with spinal cord injury trains on a treadmill or stationary bike.
Important to note – Third-party payers which include private Insurance companies and Medicaid currently do not cover, pay, or reimburse for these crucial services.
The Is No Cure Just Yet
Research is ongoing to treat the various symptoms and problems associated with Spinal Cord Injuries and to develop therapies that promote the regeneration of nerves. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke supports research to help people with SCI, as do other institutions, including the NICHD. This includes research on the four principals of spinal cord repair:
- Protecting surviving nerve cells from further damage
- Replacing damaged nerve cells
- Stimulating the regrowth of axons and targeting their connections appropriately
- Retraining neural circuits to restore body functions