After Traumatic Injury or Illness, Being Near Loved Ones Speeds Recovery
A couple of weeks ago we wrote about whether or not insurance covers air ambulance service. With health insurance companies, the discussion typically boils down to one factor: medical necessity. But medical necessity can be a matter of opinion. In some cases, for example, insurance companies have said that transporting a patient to be with family members for convalescent care is not medically necessary but rather “at the convenience of the family.” We’d like to challenge that notion.
Many medical professionals agree with us. In a number of reports on traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and even chronic illness, medical researchers have found that being in a “normal” environment with family members and friends leads to a speedier recovery than being in an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people.
- “It has been well demonstrated through ‘The Coping and Adaptation Theory’ that when a patient has experienced a traumatic series of events being away from a ‘normal environment’ the efficacy of their care, treatment, and rehabilitation produce far inferior results than the counterpart.” (Stacey Hoffman Barone)
- “Patients with chronic illness can benefit when their family members support them in managing their care.” (California Health Care Foundation)
- “You [the family member] and the person with brain injury are important members of the health care team. Active participation in treatment and rehabilitation is essential to recovery. The involvement of other family members, caregivers, friends and co-workers also can help the person with brain injury successfully return home and to the community.” (Mayo Clinic)
Many of the air ambulance medical flights that we provide are to reunite family members with their loved ones. In one case an older woman had been spending the winter in Arizona when she suffered a debilitating stroke; we arranged a medical flight for her back to the East Coast. In another case a man had been in Nebraska when his chronic breathing condition severely worsened; we arranged a commercial air medical escort back to Bulgaria.
Being with family members in a “normal” environment (rather than in a facility with no familiar faces) matters on a number of levels. In part, it takes away the anxiety we all feel when we’re alone and lets the patient concentrate on recovery. Being with family can also give patients a boost of strength and determination – both key factors in recovery.
So from our perspective, at least, being with loved ones when recovering from a traumatic injury or illness is not a matter of convenience; it’s a matter of necessity.