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Craig grad is on a mission to extend patient rehabilitation

June 02, 2014

Sam Porritt is a man who seizes opportunities. After a fall changed the course of his life in 2011, he has dedicated himself to helping others to do the same. Porritt is both a Craig Hospital alumnus, and now through a generous grant, a partner in its success.

Sam Porritt

Porritt during his therapy

Porritt and his wife were vacationing in Italy three years ago when he fell from a 15-foot ledge and was initially paralyzed from the waist down. Back home in Kansas, he learned that his insurance coverage allowed for unlimited physical therapy, which is virtually unheard of. He’s since had nearly 500 visits to rehab, including two outpatient evaluations at Craig Hospital. Because of Porritt’s extensive rehab, he was eventually able to walk, drive and work part-time.

But he noticed fellow patients dropping out of rehab long before they were healed. They had hit the limits of their insurance coverage—usually 20 to 30 sessions annually. Few Americans can afford to pay out of pocket for rehabilitation therapy, so most go home and wait for the next year, when they can return to therapy for a few more weeks or months.

“I healed because of this fluke in my insurance, and I am so grateful for it. But other people aren’t getting the same opportunity. For someone who has had a stroke, a brain injury or a spinal cord injury, 20 to 30 visits to rehab isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. They are not anywhere close to recovered,” Porritt says. “If I had a big gap in my rehab I would lose whatever strength I gained and it would be like starting all over again.”

On Aug. 16, 2013, the two-year anniversary of his accident, Porritt launched the Falling Forward Foundation to provide patients with the resources to continue their rehabilitation after their insurance runs out each year. So far, the nonprofit has helped five patients in Kansas at the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City and at Lawrence Memorial Hospital Therapy Services as well as three patients at Craig Hospital’s PEAK Center.

Sam Porritt

Porritt with Director of PT Candy Tefertiller and Craig Grad Chris Kelley

The recent grant from the Falling Forward Foundation to Craig Hospital is designated equally toward general rehabilitation for patients whose insurance coverage has been exhausted and for patients in the NeuroRecovery Network (NRN). Porritt was deeply moved when he witnessed an NRN session where therapists spent 45 minutes moving a patient’s legs on a treadmill in an effort to teach his nerves to work again. He learned that preliminary research shows it takes 60 such sessions for success; however, insurance won’t pay for that many sessions.

“Craig Hospital provides the very best care and the very best support network that there is. I’m really thrilled to be adding Craig to the Falling Forward network. This is just the beginning of our relationship,” he says. “I hope that five or 10 years from now the relationship with Craig is significantly bigger and helping even more patients.”

Porritt plans to add the nation’s best rehabilitation centers for patients of stroke, traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries to the Falling Forward Foundation roster over the years to help some of the million people who become disabled annually after their therapy is discontinued.

“I got my life back because I had no cap on my rehab, and our goal is to see other people getting their lives back with adequate rehab. I will never be able to raise enough money to help all the patients who are out there. The ultimate answer to this is a dramatic policy change—eliminating therapy caps across the board for every person in the United States.”