Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Aphasia treatment can be costly

Aphasia - language problems that can often be the result of a stroke - can be costly. But I'm grateful that despite aphasia after my own stroke, I was allowed to have speech therapy to bring back my language abilities to stay a productive member of society.

So when you read about how post-stroke speech problems inflate cost of treatment, remember that (1) preventing strokes can save lives and health care dollars and (2) the cost of speech therapy is small compared to the cost of doing nothing.
Help in regaining lost speech drive up medical bills, the researchers found. Medicare payments averaged over $20,700 for those with aphasia compared to about $18,700 for those without these language difficulties, an 8.5 percent difference.
The researchers also found that patients with aphasia were older and suffered more severe strokes, stayed in health care facilities 6.5 percent longer than those without impaired language, and had higher rates of illness and death.
The study appears Feb. 16 in the journal Stroke.
Each year in the United States, strokes leave about 100,000 people with language impairment.
"These findings are important because dramatic changes are occurring in health care reimbursement, specifically imposed caps on Medicare reimbursement for outpatient speech language pathology and physical therapy," study lead author Charles Ellis Jr., an associate professor of health sciences and research at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, said in a journal news release.

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