Prague, Oct 4 (CTK) – The quality of life of many Czech patients with damaged brain is threatened due to the fact that rehabilitation does not start early enough and is not sufficient as a result of which they may be confined to a wheelchair, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes on Tuesday.

Brain damage is diagnosed in tens of thousands of people in the Czech Republic every year. This includes annually about 200 people injured in accidents and children with polio and about 40,000 patients who suffered a stroke.

Nine years ago, three-year-old David was drowning in a garden pool. His life was saved, but his brain was seriously damaged.

“Such a thing happens all of a sudden. Doctors do what they should. But then they release your severely disabled child and they tell you they have done all that was needed and that they cannot do more,” David’s father, Milos Svoboda, told the paper.

But the rehabilitation covered by health insurance is not sufficient and intensive neurorehabilitation costs approximately 50,000 crowns a month, Svoboda said.

As it is hard for the families to gain the money, Svoboda established an association for parents of children with a damaged brain.

Svoboda launched a petition campaign that calls on the Health Ministry to focus on the issue. The petition has been signed by about 10,000 people so far.

“Health insurance companies do not cover the costs of neuro-rehabilitation programmes at present. Such programmes are provided by private facilities,” Health Ministry spokesman Ladislav Sticha told LN.

“Rehabilitation in these cases should be much longer than it usually is,” said physiotherapist Romana Holanova.

She works in Sanatoria Klimkovice neurorehabilitation clinic, north Moravia, which is the only Czech facility offering intensive rehabilitation to such patients.

Patients with damaged brain should rehabilitate up to three hours a day, Holanova said.

Within the rehabilitation, the brain is trained on the level of individual muscles and standard movement patterns are developed. Shortened muscles are stretched, the weak muscles are worked.

One of the patients of the Sanatoria Klimkovice is Czech soldier Lukas Hirka who was wounded in Afghanistan. During a Taliban attack, fragments of a concrete wall hit his head and severely damaged his brain. At first, his chance of survival was low, but now he can slowly walk with a special walker. He must undergo several hours of rehabilitation daily, however, the paper writes.

One month of rehabilitation in a special clinic is not enough for a patient with a brain damage, yet many families cannot even afford such a short treatment.

Sticha said the issue should be discussed by several ministries because it has social, work and education aspects.

The Association for Czech and Slovak Neurology and Neurosurgery declared in 2006 already that high attention should be paid to the treatment of patients with a brain damage, LN writes.

“After the acute medical care ends, the patients should achieve the optimum quality of life. This demand is important for ethical and health policy reasons as well,” the association said.