The Costs of Accessible Living for Those with Cerebral Palsy
Grants Help Some, But Not All
Caring for a child with special needs, such as cerebral palsy, carries a number of costs. Some of these costs are recurring: food, medicine, and other consumables must be purchased monthly, and the lifetime cost of this care can be extremely high.
However, the immediate costs of items such as accessible housing, wheelchairs, and a vehicle equipped to handle a wheelchair are much higher. Modifications to an existing residence to make it accessible to someone in a wheelchair can run into the tens of thousands of dollars; a simple electric wheelchair can cost five to ten thousand dollars.
The cost of a van to handle transportation of a child with cerebral palsy can be even more than these costs; a van itself can be around fifty thousand dollars; the modifications can add ten to twenty thousand dollars on top of that amount.
Many families are not equipped to put up these kinds of up-front costs, and may be without insurance to help. Medicaid coverage often does not cover the costs of some of the more expensive modifications that must be made to make a house or vehicle accessible.
There are some grants available in some states to assist those with children who have cerebral palsy in acquiring things such as an accessible vehicle. For example the Hirth family from Muskoka, Ontario was given a $20,000 grant from the President's Choice Children's Charity. This money was given with the understanding that the Hirths would use it to purchase a van that was wheelchair accessible for their son Basil.
When children with cerebral palsy, such as Basil, are younger, it is easier to carry them or transport them in a stroller or other type of infant carrier. However, among children with cerebral palsy, mobility may continue to be a major issue for the rest of their life, past the point where they can fit into a stroller. Providing an electric wheelchair, and a means to transport that wheelchair, is crucial to ensuring they can attend school, therapies, and essentially, to provide them with a means of independent living.
The Hirths understand that "cerebral palsy is unique as the disorder affects children in different ways, especially depending on the level of severity" and that you have to "take each day one day at a time". However, if cerebral palsy comes about as a result of an injury at or around the time of birth, you may be able to recover a verdict or settlement that can assist your family in providing the accessible equipment that your child needs. An experienced birth injury lawyer in Chicago, such as those at Beam Legal Team, can evaluate your case and assist you in moving forward.