Sports

Thursday, Jun 13 2013 10:22 PM

Beaten Giants fan Stow leaves local facility

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS AND STAFF REPORTS

SANTA CRUZ -- A San Francisco Giants fan who suffered brain damage after a beating at Dodger Stadium has returned home after two years in hospitals and rehabilitation centers, including one in Bakersfield.

Bryan Stow's family said on its website Wednesday that Stow will now live with them in the Santa Cruz area after spending about a year at the Centre for Neuro Skills in Bakersfield, a live-in brian injury rehab facility.

The family said Stow could have used more time at the center, but their insurance will no longer pay for the full-time care, so Stow's parents and home nurses will give him the around-the-clock care he needs.

"As is often the case, eventually the insurance carrier decides that (intensive rehabilitation) treatment is no longer warranted," said Mark J. Ashley, founder, president and CEO of the Centre for Neuro Skills, which offers programs across the country, including a new flagship Bakersfield facility at 5215 Ashe Road.

Stow, a paramedic, was beaten in a parking lot after the 2011 opening day game between the Giants and Dodgers in Los Angeles. Two Dodgers fans are awaiting trial on charges in the beating, which sparked outrage and brought stadium security changes around the state and country.

A video posted on Stow's family's website indicated he was at the Bakersfield facility from March 2012 through late April of this year. Ashley said Stow was in the facility's active rehabilitation program and received rehabilitation treatments the entire time, including intensive physical therapy, speech therapy, counseling, educational therapy and occupational therapy.

Without insurance, most people could not afford to pay out of pocket for those kind of services, Ashley said.

"You're looking at costs that can be $45,000 to $60,000 a month or more," Ashley said.

When Stow left the center, he could talk and move, things he couldn't do when he was admitted, Ashley said.

"He made a tremendous amount of progress with us, a phenomenal kind of progress," Ashley said.

Still, the CEO said Stow "absolutely" could have benefited from more treatment.

Patients must often conclude their treatment because they have reached the limit of what their health insurance covers, Ashley said.

"It literally will break your heart," he said, speaking by phone Thursday from Oakland.

He compared the limitations on rehabilitation for brain injury patients to rationing the number of days of treatment a cancer patient could receive.

"We don't approach disease treatment in that way, but that's what's happening when we injure the most intricate and exquisite organ in the body," he said.

Though Stow's treatment at the center was cut off, Ashley said Stow's time there "puts him in a better position than he would have been otherwise."

"Bryan because of his notoriety received a much longer period of treatment than most," Ashley said.

Most patients get about 90 days, Ashley said, and the center turns away about 60 percent of the cases referred to them because their insurance won't cover the center's treatment. Ashley said some carriers say they won't cover the license of a facility like the Centre for Neuro Skills. Ashley is advocating for a state senate bill that would change that and would prohibit health insurance carriers from denying treatment at a facility in the plan's network.

For Stow's family, they said the transition home has been hard.

"Bryan requires 24-hour nursing care, but this is not covered by insurance," they wrote. "So we had to hire care givers in order to help Bryan to get up and showered in the morning, and get dressed and in bed in the evening."

They said while Stow appears to be doing better, he has memory problems, pain and stiffness.

Stow's family said due to cuts in therapy coverage, Stow has experienced a big setback.

"We do what we can at home, but he needs the five days a week that he grew accustomed to," they wrote. "We just don't know how to get that for him."

Calls to the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers were not immediately returned.

A lawsuit by Stow against the Dodgers organization and then-owner Frank McCourt is pending.

Californian staff writer Rachel Cook contributed to this story.

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