Editor’s note: As a Physician, Dr Dale Hull was used to helping patients. When his life literally turned upside down after a fall on a trampoline, Dr. Hull had to re-learn everything. After his recovery, he knew he wanted to continue helping patients, but in a different way. Part 5 of 5 part series.
I’m still partially paralyzed from my chest down, and I walk with a cane. Walking has become a very conscious act for me. When I’m familiar with my surroundings, I walk without a cane. When I’m out and about, I use my cane to prevent being accused of being under the influence. So I am known as a walking clod. I am fairly independent. I can drive myself where I want to go. I’d needed 2 ½ years in my recovery to become an Olympic torch bearer. During my recovery, I had been asked to go see quite a few people who had injuries similar to mine. Everyone wanted to know, “How did you get so much function back? What did you do to get all the physical therapy you needed?” During the time that Jan Black was working with me, she was also working with other people who wanted more therapy. Jan had worked with spinal cord injured people her entire career, and she knew that there was a better way to help people get more function, and she wanted her own clinic. Jan and I began to talk about why someone hadn’t started a special clinic, devoted exclusively to people with spinal cord injuries. We began to think that if we partnered and decided to create such a clinic, how could we make it happen.
My wife, Jan Black, Dr. Wally Lee, an emergency room physician who became a paraplegic in 2002, and I formed the Hull Foundation in November of 2003 to create a state-of-the-art spinal cord and neurology recovery center called Neuroworx. We’re a community based life and therapy center that focuses primarily on spinal-cord injuries, but we also have attracted quite a few people with brain injuries, strokes and other neurological conditions. We are trying to be very innovative and aggressive in what we offer to our clients. If you were to get injured today, you probably only would be eligible for 20 outpatient visits per year, and each one of those sessions only would account for 50 minutes of billable time (the amount of time that an insurance company would pay the physical therapist to work with you). If you had a torn rotator cuff in your shoulder, you would get 20 visits to help rehabilitate that injury. At the same time, if you broke your neck and damaged your spinal cord, you still only would receive about 20 visits.
Our foundation gives individuals an extraordinary amount of time for their rehabilitation. We may bill the insurance company for 50 minutes, but the individual actually may be here for 2 or 2 1/2-hours. We created Neuroworx as a nonprofit to try and give people as much therapy as they need, and not just the amount of therapy that we can bill an insurance company. We want to give people the ability to reach their highest level of function. But we are not miracle workers. What we have learned is that if we make individuals’ spirits walk, we have done a great thing. If we can help them obtain a small degree of independence, that can be a quantum leap for the rest of their lives. Since we give supplemental care above what an insurance company will pay for, we have to do fundraising. So, we write grants, solicit funds and do whatever we can to get our patients funding for additional help. We try to do as much charity care as possible.
We have attracted some benevolent contributions from organizations like the Christopher Reeve Foundation, which gave us a quality-of-life grant. We were very honored when the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation asked us to become a part of their neuro-recovery network. Currently there are six research facilities and five community-fitness-and-wellness centers. We are one of those five community-fitness-and-wellness centers. Part of the purpose of these community-fitness-and-wellness centers is to demonstrate that exercise can help enable people with spinal-cord injuries to get back into their communities and be healthier and have fewer medical problems, because, they have a regimen of exercise. In 2004, Jan Black and I were the only ones involved in the foundation, and we had an empty room. We had a pair of hand weights, a blue therapy mat and a red therapy ball. We were using local swimming pools for aquatic therapy. Now, we have 10,000 feet of space, lots of specialized equipment and a staff of 10. Actually we’re out of space, now. What we hope to do is to build our own building and become the best outpatient facility for spinal cord and neurologic injuries in the nation.
About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com