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Cognitive Therapy Gave Me the Anchor I Needed

Comments [5]

Carolyn McCormack

Cognitive Therapy Gave Me the Anchor I Needed
Multimedia

A personal story by Carolyn McCormack, TBI Patient in Bozeman, Montana

I am a married 39-year old mother of three and a successful business owner. In May 2004, I was involved in a terrible car accident, in which the car I was driving was struck from the rear. My car collapsed around me and the trunk of the car wrapped around my head. I was taken to the emergency room by ambulance with severe head pain and lower back pain. They looked at me, x-rayed my neck, took a CT of my head and told me to go home. That was the last thing I remembered until a week later.

My husband took the week off to take care of the children and me. As soon as I could move, I dragged myself out of bed and went back to work. When it was apparent I wasn't getting better, my family doctor referred me for physical therapy. Slowly my back began to get better, but I noticed that my headaches weren't and I kept forgetting important things. I was in a constant state of confusion. Also, my work productivity slowed and I was short with people. I went back to my family doctor. This time he referred me to an ophthalmologist who diagnosed me with Post Concussive Syndrome. In the meantime, my chiropractor suggested I see a neurologist. The neurologist confirmed I had a head injury but couldn't determine the extent until tests were completed. By this time it was six months post injury. After a variety of experts and tests, the diagnosis was that my condition was permanent damage to the brain (mild to moderate TBI) that may or may not get better with time. The neurologist said I would have to re-learn how to do some things and learn to compensate for the things I can no longer do. She referred me to a speech language pathologist for cognitive therapy.

To add insult to the injury, I found out my insurance company wouldn't cover this cognitive rehab therapy that I so desperately needed. They said that it was considered investigational and therefore not covered. I couldn't understand how they could say that cognitive therapy was investigational. My SLP had to re-teach me even the most basic of skills. I did not retain information immediately. Only after many sessions with repetitive practice and reminders have I been able to retain and use even some of the information in a productive way. Before the cognitive therapy, all I could do was wander around in a state of confusion, not knowing what to do next. I couldn't even make a meal or grocery shop. I would miss important appointments and forget to pay my bills on time. I would even forget to pick up my kids at school. Cognitive therapy gave me the anchor I needed to live at least a semi-productive life.

Unfortunately, after the accident I was no longer confident in my ability to function at the level needed to balance a business and manage a household. I retired my business and lost income. Mounting bills forced my husband and I to sell our house. My husband has had a lot of problems adjusting to my new disability and this has put a strain on my marriage. My children miss their home and the friends they grew up with and they can't understand why I am unable to do things I used to do.

I found out that I was not the only person having problems getting cognitive therapy paid for by insurance companies. Knowing how much the therapy was helping me, I couldn't imagine someone else with a head injury not getting the therapy they needed because they couldn't afford it. I was fortunate enough to have an understanding SLP who did not ask me for any money up front. I wouldn't have been able to afford to see her otherwise. I decided to appeal the insurance company's decision, hoping that it would not only help me, but also help other people as well.

With the help of an attorney, I learned that my insurance company did cover this cognitive rehab therapy as an inpatient treatment for TBI. He argued it should also be covered as an outpatient treatment for MTBI. I requested an independent review panel, hired by my insurance company. The panel ultimately agreed that cognitive therapy is not only beneficial but also an invaluable therapy for outpatients of MTBI. I won my appeal! It is my hope that more people can be properly diagnosed and treated earlier in their injury.

From the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Used with permission. www.asha.org.

Comments [5]

Sorry I haven't answered any of your comments I didn't realize the article was published until I recently Googled myself. It was written for congress to give funding to Vet's that had Brain Injuries. I would be happy to answer any questions about  Tramautic Brain Injuries. I am 11 years out now. I still have balance issues. I recently suffered a new brain injury when I lost my balance fell back and hit my head. Now I am doing the therapies all over again.

P.S. Erin I sent you an email to your live.com account let me know if you don't get it or you changed your email.

Carolyn McCormack

Aug 1st, 2015 1:21am

I had cognitive rehab 1 year after my brain surgery.  The only problem is that I was having short-term memory problems;  So, everything I would learn one day, I would forget the next.  Not blaming anyone.....just wonder if I shouldn't have waited a couple more years until my short-term memory improved a bit.  Just my experience.

Feb 20th, 2015 1:40pm

I was injured in 1998 and left unconscious initially for over two hours - i hate telling this story so anyway ... with all the knowledge that has been developed i wondered what i would be like now; if the three years i could barely speak would not have been; if my marriage would still be; if i wouldn't cry reading this; if this year would not have been the first i would have been able to successfully live on my own; would that i had been at least told to exercise and not just lie there.  But I am so glad I have found this site!

Nov 27th, 2013 5:32pm

My daughter suffered TBI. We live inNC, we have exhausted all our funds in physical, speech and occupational. I know she needs cognitive therapy but don't know how to get it for her. Can you email me some starting advise, names and numbers and any info you think would be helpful, I am desperate to get her to a point of functioning so she doesn't always feel so degrading of herself because she can't remember and function like she used to. It kills me daily watching her struggle. My address is alwayserin2009@live.com. Please help. Thank you with all my heart for anything.

Nov 16th, 2013 1:30am

Thank you for telling your story. I was in a motorcycle accident last year and you describe just how I am living. I am trying to get an attorney to listen to me because they let the guy walk with a non-injury ticket which was cleared because he knew the right people. I was never taken care of medically either after he ran me down from behind, just like you, an x-ray and goodbye.....now I have a speech therapist that specializes in brain injuries. I missed my appt today because I thought it was Wednesday but it was Thursday. She will squeeze me in tomorrow. I drive an hour and 45 minutes to get there. I'm scared of getting lost. But like you said, she is my only hope.again, thank you for giving hope

Apr 4th, 2013 11:25pm


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