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Foundation is helping Craig patients rebuild their abilities

December 28, 2015

Sam Porritt hopes to work himself out of a job.

As the founder of the Falling Forward Foundation, he is working tirelessly to change legislation to eliminate insurance caps on outpatient rehabilitation therapy visits. But until that day, Falling Forward is helping patients achieve their optimal recovery after a serious injury by underwriting therapy sessions after their insurance sessions have been depleted.

In the two years that Falling Forward has been in operation, it has provided funding for 36 patients, including 17 patients at Craig Hospital.

Therapy caps began in a piece of Medicare legislation in 1997 and the issue was not addressed in the Affordable Care Act. Most commercial insurance companies cover only 20 - 30 visits to outpatient rehabilitation.

Porritt founded Falling Forward based on his personal experience watching fellow patients being discharged from outpatient therapy when their insurance benefits ran out. In 2011, Porritt was on a trip in Italy when he fell from a terrace and sustained a spinal cord injury that resulted in paralysis from the waist down. It was only after his accident that he discovered that his insurance policy offered unlimited therapy visits—a benefit found in less than 1% of insurance policies. With this unknown benefit, Porritt was able to complete two years of intensive therapy, and progressed from using a wheelchair to walking with only a cane.

During his therapy, Porritt saw one fellow patient after another meet their maximum allotted visits, and be discharged from therapy even if they hadn’t fully recovered.

“At the rehab center, everyone becomes buddies and you encourage each other,” says Porritt. “But one by one, they hit their cap and were sent home. After watching this dozens of times, I felt I had to do something.”

The Falling Forward Foundation raises money and provides grants to three rehabilitation centers, including Craig Hospital. Each facility uses the support to provide therapy sessions to those who might not otherwise be able to continue their rehabilitation.

“I’m convinced that we’re filing a gap that no one else is filling,” he says. ‘Even at Craig, as wonderful as it is, that gap still exists for some patients.”

Porritt has also taken two trips to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators to discuss therapy caps. In 2015 he took Ed, a Falling Forward recipient who sustained a stroke, with him to meet with legislators. “When we revealed to them that just one year earlier Ed was in a wheelchair, their jaws dropped,” says Porritt. “Ed is living proof that many patients can recover if we could just get those caps eliminated.”

Porritt recently launched the #StandforAbility marketing campaign and produced four videos featuring the stories of patients with stroke, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury who have continued their rehabilitation with support from Falling Forward. The campaign focuses on the different things that patients are able to do because of the strides they were able to make with adequate rehabilitation.

Ed's Falling Forward Story

“From cooking to dancing to making the bed, it’s the simplest things that we all take for granted until you lose them,” he says. “But these things don’t have to be gone forever.”

The Foundation plans to partner with additional rehab centers in 2016 to help more individuals, but Porritt’s ultimate goal is to make that assistance unnecessary. “I don’t believe the fix is for us to raise a billion dollars. If we can put the burden back on the insurance companies and make this gap go away, I’ll feel like I’ve done my job. Everyone should have the same chance that I had.”