For Reggie Lamour, 18 year old star high school Rugby player, a day in January 2013 began as just another on the field playing the sport he loved. It ended with his sustaining an injury that left him a quadriplegic and likely dependent upon a respirator for the rest of his life. But fortunately for him, through The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), he was able to be fitted for the Diaphragmatic Pacing System (DPS), which replaces a large bulky ventilator (breathing machine) and is just slightly larger than a cellphone. In order to implant the system no invasive surgery is required and the individual in a wheelchair is free to move without all the cumbersome equipment required by a ventilator.
Today, 21-year-old Reggie has progressed to the point that he is no longer dependent even upon the DPS. Motivated to be more independent, he would like to be able to earn a college degree in athletic training or sports management.
CIT, a program of Broward Children’s Center, was funded four years ago to demonstrate the effectiveness of timely and coordinated transfers of ventilatordependent patients from hospital trauma centers to a community-based setting and/or home. Florida State Rep. Matt Hudson (R-Naples) spearheaded the effort to achieve funding for Reggie’s DPS. “Rep. Hudson’s support, understanding, and commitment to assist Reggie and CIT have been extraordinary,” says Marjorie Evans, Executive Director of CIT/Broward Children’s Center.
While the goal of the program is to realize significant cost savings to Medicaid over the lifetime of the patient, it is equally important to demonstrate the reduction in costly secondary complications of these patients and to improve the “quality of life” for the both
the patient and their caregivers. This program has successfully implanted six people who are now living at home with only a nursing assistant to help with bathing instead of spending their lives in costly restrictive nursing homes.
The Agency for Persons with Disabilities cannot fund this program because the intelligence and cognitive skills of these young adults exceeds that necessary for APD eligibility. Further, clients over 21 years of age do not qualify for any state-funded pediatric care services. Without this program, there are no state-funded service options beyond long-term nursing home institutional care. This is a relatively small population of individuals, but one that has all of the promise of further vocational and educational achievements and community participation when provided with this assistive technology and the therapies, training and skills supporting it. Broward Children’s Center has been able to provide this and demonstrate it.
“With the development of the resources and appropriately trained personnel,”Evans adds, “the Center is already in a unique position to extend these rehabilitation serves to other severely spinal-cord-injured young people and their families. We would like to offer inspiration to this population in the realization that there is still a quality life that they have in front of them. This technology, when accompanied by the type of supportive services demonstrated by BCC, opens a new era for severely disabled–one that is about inclusion in society and not isolation from it.”