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Art Therapy Paints a Way to TBI Recovery

Occupational and recreational treatments can help traumatic brain injury patients make a full and fast recovery. But if some law makers have their way, the real medical benefits of art therapy for TBI patients might end up on the cutting room floor.

A traumatic brain injury can send car accident victims into isolation. While TBI patients relearn motor abilities and cognitive skills they may have lost, they often have trouble interacting or expressing themselves. Jennifer Mount told NJTV News:

“After the accident I became an introvert. I stayed home, I avoided talking with people because I couldn’t keep up with the conversations.”

That’s when her doctors added art therapy to her treatment regimen. Mount was a former art instructor, so getting her painting again was crucial.

“It just made me more comfortable in my skin. I was more confident,” Mount said.

Medical Benefits of Art Therapy

Art therapy isn’t just about emotional benefit. It is supported by real science. Dr. Brian Greenwald, medical director at the Center for Head Injuries at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute explains:

“It’s all about trying to get those pathways resurrected and trying to normalize all the pathways, trying to normalize the brain function.”

Art therapy can also have a diagnostic benefit. Cheryl Dougherty, rehab supervisor said:

“Sometimes I actually come across that they have a visual deficit when they start to draw and paint, and it’s like oh they’re missing something on the right or in the middle. It helps them visually scan the piece, construct and put things together.”

Legislators Take Aim at Art Therapy

Michigan legislators and lobbyists are trying to take its top-notch no-fault benefits away from residents. Michigan has the most extensive auto accident insurance benefits in the country. If you have been hurt in a car crash, you are entitled to compensation for every reasonably necessary medical treatment.

But when they argue for no-fault reform, art therapy is one of the first treatments on the chopping block. In a recent debate over a fee increase for Michigan’s Catastrophic Claims Fund, Fox 2 News reported Republican Senator Joe Hune’s position:

He believes it is long overdue to eliminate benefits such as horse, music, aroma, and clown/mime therapy for accident victims. “It’s ridiculous,” that insurance companies have to cover these costs and “it is really screaming for the need to reform,” he contends.

Hune’s position ignores the real medical benefits of art therapy for TBI victims. It puts insurance adjusters and politicians between accident victims and their doctors, giving the insurance companies final say on what treatments are reasonable and necessary.

No-fault reform isn’t about reigning in medical spending. It’s about saving insurance companies money by de-funding cutting edge treatments that help TBI victims make a full and fast recovery.

David Christensen is a brain injury expert at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He helps TBI victims get the compensation they need for all their medical treatments. If you have suffered TBI from an auto accident, contact Christensen Law for a free consultation.