How to Mentally Cope with Life After Serious Injury or Disease with Ron Gilbert

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Event_Moderator Welcome to WebMD Live. Today we will be discussing "Coping After Serious Injury" with Ronald R. Gilbert.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Ron Gilbert's professional career has been dedicated to preventing serious spinal cord injuries, as well as serious aquatic injuries. He founded and is the Chairman of the Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury Prevention (FSCIP) and the Foundation for Aquatic Injury Prevention (FAIP) which are nonprofit educational groups dedicated to preventing spinal cord and aquatic injuries. Ron Gilbert has provided legal counsel to victims of spinal cord injuries and aquatic injuries throughout the United States. He has represented over 200 victims of spinal cord injury from aquatic accidents in more than 35 states. For more information go to http://www.fscip.org.

Ron, welcome to WebMD Live.

In your capacity as chairman of the Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury Prevention, Care & Cure, you come into contact with many people who have been recently disabled. What are the most common types of initial reactions that these people have to their disability?

Gilbert_Speaker I think it's similar to disease or injury; the first reaction is suicide, they want to end their lives. Then anger, denial, and then through support groups like ours, they can come back to realize they have a lot to contribute to society.

Event_Moderator What are some of the typical everyday challenges that face newly disabled persons?

Gilbert_Speaker In connection with recent suicide, I can give numerous examples of friends that wanted to commit suicide; Chris Reeves is a good example. He was at the Super Bowl yesterday, making a presentation and giving inspiration to people. My friend, Doug Heir, has won 200 medals in the Special Olympics.I saw Chris Reeves' presentation, and thought it was inspirational. He went through a lot of anger, frustration.

Our organization, Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury Prevention (FSCIP), just expanded this year to join forces with him to help raise money for care. I think it's inspirational what he's doing; as far as walking again, I hope it happens in the near future. In the meantime, for all of you guys that are in wheelchairs, we're out there helping. In the meantime, take care of yourself. There's hope down the road.

Event_Moderator Does a person's financial strength affect the level of care they receive? For an "average" person, how effective is the level of care offered by the government in terms of "Medicare" or "Medicaid"?

Gilbert_Speaker Definitely. A lot of my friends in wheelchairs, in one of two provided through Medicaid, basically a need thing, unfortunately a lot of people that suffer, financially can't take care of themselves. People like Chris Reeves; it costs like $50,000 to transport him from New York and back, because he needs a private plane. He's a vent-quad; you can't be guaranteed that a plane will have the electrical supplies to help a guy like Chris Reeves.

I'm not a perfect judge of that; I think its adequate. If it was my brother in a chair, I'd want something better than Medicare, but I do think it's adequate. There's Gordon Mansfield; he has a lobby that works for better legislation for our veterans. The PVA has chapters throughout the US for support. John Efferton is our Executive Director. We're trying to get money here in Michigan to help people here that are in chairs. My program is to wipe-out spinal cord injury so we don't have to have these unfortunate accidents occurring. We're trying to get better legislation to get better reporting so we can save people's lives before they get hurt in the first place.

The National Spinal Cord Association helps people get through life and have a reason to live. My friend Doug is the current president of that association. He has over 200 gold medals up here on the picture of this Wheaties Box.

Event_Moderator What are some of the benefits of a preventative organization?

Gilbert_Speaker We need all of them, and that's why we expanded our group. It used to be the Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury Prevention (FSCIP), and now it's for cure. I'm a lawyer for a living, but now to see my friends walk again; I go throughout the country to meet with insurance specialists, risk management people, and my challenge to them is that they don't like me because I sue them, so why don't they put me out of a job by preventing these accidents?