Friday, June 24, 2011

Cerebral palsy costs over $900000 per person in the US

There's an interesting number contained in a not so recent publication by  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (A US public health agency) - "Economic costs associated with mental retardation, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and vision impairment—United States, 2003" that puts Conductive Education in a different light. The report estimates the cost of people in America at 921,000 dollars per person. This includes not only the costs of treatment and assisted living but also things like potentially speculative things like lost income. There is always a question as to how those numbers come about and what they actually mean, but as an attorney I came to accept that we put numbers on things like death of a loved one, loss of a limb, enjoyment of life and those are pretty standard in tort law. This is not what I wanted to focus on. If Cerebral Palsy comes with such great social cost, maybe something should be done to limit its long lasting effects. Let's take a second look at Conductive Education and its potential ability to turn cerebral palsy kids into functional, independent successful people. The more a person is able to do for herself, the less of a social burden she becomes.

The division between the left and the right in the United States has also been about fiscal responsibility and spending. We are also still in a global crisis and the funds are tight. When you think about it, Conductive Education is something that both Republicans and Democrats should stand behind. It addresses both of their goals: It assists with an important social issue, it empowers the individual and it's cheaper in the log run. And it's not a virtual problem. Florida Governor Rick Scott suspended a lot of services for people with disabilities just a few weeks ago. And I agree that the situation is difficult and the budget needs to be balanced. Conductive Education centers that run as schools like ours are cost effective because we never ask for any disability  therapy based money and our services are free. We do get funded by our student's educational McKay scholarships.

I understand the Governor's motives going in, and quite frankly we want to spare those kids the lifetime of group homes and nursing homes funding for which he suspended in the first place. The earlier it starts the better the potential benefits. A stitch in time saves hundreds of thousands... per person. Think about it. If 2-4 live births per 1000 have CP and the cost of one is 921,000 then the total comes up to a pretty high bill for the State. We can take the cost down. And think of the added benefit of having involved, functional citizens that lead productive lives. Granted, not everyone is equally functional at the end and there are many things to consider but every new skill improves the quality of life. The funny thing- Centers like ours don't require a lot  other than an ability to reach parents with information and perhaps some funds so we can expand and take in more children. I would really love for Florida politicians left and right to come see why this works. Gov. Scott, Senator Nelson and the Republican challenger George LeMieux come to Gainesville. And just a reminder: I would not be an attorney today has it not been for this therapy.

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