Families of two paralyzed Bay State teens are calling on insurance companies to step up and fund the life-altering therapy that they say has given their sons new hope, but is painfully out of grasp for so many other families.
“It is a shame that insurance doesn’t cover it,” said Michael Brown, who uses donations from the community to pay the $100-an-hour bill for his son, paralyzed Norwood hockey player Matt Brown, to get therapy at Journey Forward, a Canton rehabilitation center.
“What we do at Journey Forward is we think outside the box,” said Cummings, 29, who gets around with a walker and says exercise-based therapy has made that possible. “We get paralyzed clients on spin bikes, on total gyms, on treadmills.”
Cummings operates on the belief that with repetitive exercise the neuropathways that are broken in a spinal-cord injury can be retrained, forging connections again between the brain and the spinal cord.
Brown, 16, the high school hockey player who suffered two fractured vertebrae in a game last January, leaving him a quadriplegic, is wiggling his toes now thanks to his work at Journey Forward, he said.
“I’ve got three of them to really go,” he said of the toes on his right foot.
Insurance companies say they don’t cover Journey Forward because their therapies are unproven and their specialists are not licensed physical therapists, but families of patients say that view is shortsighted.
“To put up a barrier to anybody who has suffered a spinal-cord injury or is in a wheelchair and is looking to get out, to put out a financial barrier because insurance doesn’t see it as traditional is just crazy,” said Michael Brown. “There are many of these clients who don’t want to learn how to live in a wheelchair. They want to learn how to get out of that chair.”