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Disparities Apparent When It Comes to Child Brain Injury Treatment

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Kaitlynn Martin1 year ago

According to a recent study from the University of Washington, children with low socio-economic status tend to not receive the proper treatment for their traumatic brain injuries.

Overview of the Brain Injury Study

Children who suffer traumatic brain injuries have a long, difficult road to recovery. They require services for their physical and mental health that a lot of children are failing to receive.

Less than 20 percent of rehabilitation providers in the state of Washington accepted Medicaid, while providing language interpreters. And just 8 percent provided the necessary mental health services to these children.

These findings only highlight that disadvantages children suffer for their status, and are further impacted by not receiving proper rehabilitation services for their situation, claims lead author Megan Moore.  She believes this limited availability will impact the children’s outcomes.

Methodology and Findings of the Study

For this study, data from 293 health providers around Washington who offer physical and occupational therapy were collected.  The data collected determined the types of services offered, Medicaid acceptance, and language interpretation. The results are as follows:

  • Only 46 percent of providers accepted children with Medicaid
  • Children covered by Medicaid had fewer rehabilitation services available than those covered by private insurance
  • In each of the three general areas of health care listed above, there were fewer services for children whose families needed language interpretation
  • While mental health services comprised more than half of the rehabilitation services available, only 8 percent of those providers accepted children with Medicaid who needed language services
  • Less than half of the physical and occupational services accepted children with Medicaid and provided language services
  • In total, less than 20 percent of all providers accepted children with Medicaid and also provided language services

The researchers looked at travel time for 82 children as well, who had brain injuries treated at Harborview Medical Center. It was found that regardless of insurance, the Spanish-speakers had to drive an average of 16 minutes more than the English speakers to reach a health care provider. The more diverse counties had fewer multilingual rehabilitation services, and these inequalities may be even greater than what the study shows.

More About the Brain Injury Situation

The gap with healthcare is worrisome because of the states increasing diversity, with more than 18 percent of households in Washington speaking another language in 2012.

According to Joana Ramos, co-chair of the Washington State Coalition for Language Access, it is a huge problem that advocates regularly hear of families being turned away and required to provide their own interpreters.

Moore claims that more critical thinking is required about how these kids are transitioned back to the community, and it is important to link them to the services they need. It is a social justice obligation that cannot be ignored knowing what we know now.


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