Thanks, Matthew for the invitation to be here today. I’d like to remind you of the Power of One. We’re all here today because of Marilyn Smith. Her son Noah was injured in 2003, and her response to that is why we’re here. (Applause, amen.)
Sarah, Luke, Kylie, James (he shows their pictures, along with details about the time and severity of their injuries) … are all people with SCI, all currently out of the hospital and in need of outpatient rehab, and not able to fund it.
I’m an ob-gyn by training. I got a cervical injury in my forties in a trampoline accident. I was sent home after about 3 months, where I was very frustrated to learn that my PT wasn’t going to be able to work with me on getting better.
I got very lucky and was able to hire a woman named Jan Black. For two and a half years, with Jan’s help, he did everything possible to recover function, including building his own suspended gait training outfit in his house.
In June 2004 he and Jan started their own facility — a 1000 sq foot room with a mat and an exercise ball. By 2013 they had 4000 sq ft … and a year later that had become a state of the art facility (called Neuroworx), staffed by people who know what they’re doing.
We have pools with integrated treadmills, and one with a scissor lift that lets you adjust the depth for control of buoyancy. We have lots of kids. We have a gym for basketball, full-sized, with the Utah Jazz logo on the floor.
None of this matters if people don’t have access to care. If they can’t afford it. So we made a team in 2012 that passed the SCI-BI Rehab fund, specifically for Utah residents who have had a TBI or an SCI. Your injury must be non-progressive. Your resources must be exhausted.
The legislation closely defined who could provide this kind of care. One was Neuroworx, and the other was the U of U medical center. The legislation gave them a $200k start up fee and added $20 for each DUI, which means they have a built in budget of about $200k per year. There’s a committee of 7 to oversee the money. Last year the state upped the funding by adding $1 for each offroad vehicle registration, which added $360k per year.
They were able to make a cost/benefit argument based on costs of staying injured and inactive vs. the cost of providing the opportunity to do meaningful rehab. They have to show that they can reduce medical recidivism. The state has estimated savings and found the return on their investment to be well worth the money.
He goes back to his original 4 people and shows how many visits each got, how much the state paid for those visits, and how the people are doing today. It’s a very, very compelling argument. Nationally the return to work or school is about 30%, but in Utah it’s 71%.
Legislation is hard work, and it’s not fun. It is, however, extremely worth the trouble.
(Dang, this man is another rock star. Yikes.)
There are a couple of comments to the effect of: Sir, you’re brilliant.