Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Imagine you are a fit, healthy 20 year old who has made the decision to serve your country.
The U.S. government directs the military to enter into conflict in a dangerous place like Iraq or Afghanistan.
You go willingly as any soldier does and do your job.
One day, while on patrol, your MRAP (mine resistant ambush protected) vehicle is hit by a powerful Iranian made bomb.
The next thing you know, you wake up at Landstuhl hospital at Ramstein AFB in Germany.
You are missing your legs. You may be missing an arm or two as well.
You are then flown to Walter Reed Medical Center to continue your medical care and begin your physical rehabilitation.
This happens all to frequently.
There are thousands of our wounded heroes in this situation. And unfortunately, more coming due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Dean Kamen is an engineering genius. He developed the Segway. And, he developed the iBOT.
The objective of the iBOT is to give people with severe disabilities their life back. It gives them a dramatic improvement in mobility. It allows them to work, shop, and just live as close to normal as possible.
Please watch this video to see it in action.
I've had the privilege of meeting a number of wounded soldiers who have iBOTS. They love them. They don't feel disabled anymore. They can play with their kids. Get around their house. Go shopping on their own.
One of the favorite features of the iBOT is it allows the user to raise himself or herself to eye level. In a wheelchair, you are always looking up and being looked down upon by whoever you are interacting with. Not with the iBOT.
Dean Kamen licensed the iBOT technology to a division of Johnson & Johnson who was manufacturing and selling this amazing device.
But not anymore.
It isn't Johnson & Johnson's fault. The problem is there is no market. Because there are no funds to pay for iBOTs.
To date, the U.S. government will not buy iBOTs for our wounded soldiers.
Medicare classifies the iBOT as a wheelchair, and therefore too expensive for reimbursement.
Private insurance won't pay for it either.
An iBOT costs $26,000.
Johnson & Johnson would gladly go back into production if there are funds to pay for them.
Dean Kamen has lobbied Washington and Congress for years for funding.
He was told earlier this year that times were tough in Washington and there just wasn't any money for the program.
Dean came unglued. At a time when the U.S. government is bailing out banks, car companies, folks who can't pay their mortgage, "stimulating" the economy, and creating a trillion dollar deficit with wild unaccountable spending, there is no money for an iBOT.
Folks, we can do something about this.
Not only for the wounded soldiers, but for any disabled folks whose lives could be so drastically improved.
Here is the plan.
1. Contact your Representative and Senator and tell them we want iBOTs for our wounded soldiers, Medicare patients who need them, and for private insurance to be required to cover them under the new and improved health care program coming soon.
2. The Peter Burks Unsung Hero Fund is working on a plan right now to create a major fundraising program with all monies raised to go to the purchase of iBOTs for wounded soldiers. We want to get Johnson & Johnson back into production. Soon, we will have the details and they will be published here first. It will be broad based and easy to participate in. It will do good for our wounded, our soldiers around the world, and for us civilians as a way to show support.
Let's foment change.