SCI Rehabilitation process and costs “the trade-off”

More is Possible, 25.03.2024

Slide Rehaprocess

Some important facts according to the World Health Organization (WHO):

  • Every year, between 250,000 and 500,000 people worldwide suffer a spinal cord injury (SCI)
  • People with a spinal cord injury have a two to five times higher risk of dying prematurely than people without a spinal cord injury
  • Spinal cord injuries are associated with the risk of developing secondary conditions that can lead to further disability and can even be life-threatening, e.g. deep vein thrombosis, urinary tract infections, muscle spasms, osteoporosis, pressure ulcers, chronic pain and respiratory complications

"All" of these people undergo some form of rehabilitation process. In principle, the rehabilitation process is very similar for people in many Western countries - where there are major country-specific differences, however, is in the length of stay for initial rehabilitation. In Switzerland, for example, 4-6 months for paraplegics and 6-12 months for tetraplegics are more "normal" than in the US, where initial rehabilitation is shortened by around 3 months on average in both cases. In return, and probably also as a consequence, outpatient therapy is more pronounced in the US than on average in Europe. The systems are therefore partly different with regard to initial rehabilitation and outpatient (continuing) therapy - but what we believe all countries, regions and systems in the world have in common is the fact that over the lifetime of a person who suffers a spinal cord injury, therapy is not provided to a sufficient extent to keep the body as healthy as possible and certainly not to achieve the degree of recovery (neuro-recovery) that would be possible for every patient who is willing, and this applies above all to outpatient services after the end of initial rehabilitation.

The reason for this is as simple as it is logical and is cost - it is a trade-off between the money that a society is willing to invest and what benefit is gained in return. As people affected ourselves, we can understand this way of thinking, but we are convinced that the calculation that our society makes is no longer correct and will become even more distorted the longer our planet continues to rotate - there are two facts that illustrate this: firstly, people with disabilities are getting older and older (like all people on average) and therefore need to be cared for for longer overall; the costs of caring for people with disabilities increase exponentially with age and even more so than for "healthy" aging people. In other words, we will be around longer and longer and there will be more and more of us. In our view, you don't need to be an economist to come to the conclusion that this will result in ever higher costs.

→ Perhaps it is worth slowly rethinking this and investing more in treatment options and therefore more in the recovery and health of spinal cord injuries, thereby reducing the overall costs. We as "More is Possible" will definitely do our utmost to contribute to a change in the system, which we believe is necessary for the good of society as a whole.

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