Oliver Springs woman fighting for medical equipment

Oliver Springs woman fighting for medical equipment

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Cindy Clayton, who has Multiple Sclerosis attends church every week with her daughters. Cindy Clayton, who has Multiple Sclerosis attends church every week with her daughters.
Each weekday, therapists at the rehabilitation center where she lives put her into a standing position. Each weekday, therapists at the rehabilitation center where she lives put her into a standing position.
She would be able to do it herself in a standing wheelchair like this one. She would be able to do it herself in a standing wheelchair like this one.
On long weekends and away from the rehabilitation center, Cindy Clayton is confined to her chair in the sitting position all day long which can lead to debilitating sores, like she's experienced in the past. On long weekends and away from the rehabilitation center, Cindy Clayton is confined to her chair in the sitting position all day long which can lead to debilitating sores, like she's experienced in the past.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

OLIVER SPRINGS (WATE) - Multiple Sclerosis is a debilitating neurological disease that has no cure. An estimated 250,000 to 350,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed.   

An East Tennessee woman with MS for nearly 30 years is now in a battle with TennCare over a special piece of equipment she desperately needs.

Cindy Clayton has Multiple Sclerosis. She's now a quadriplegic.

Diagnosed at the age of 28, the disease first caused fatigue and numbness, but eventually forced this once active mother and surgical room nurse to life in a nursing home.

"Gosh, over the 28 years of my life, she has gone from being able to walk, to being only able to move her head," said Clayton's daughter Patricia Anke.

"She really can't lay for long periods of time. she can't sit for a long period of time," said Clayton's other daughter Sicily Alcorn.

Clayton's daughters say the chair their mother has sat in for 10 years is old, in ill repair and falling apart.

Clayton has been fighting to get a special chair from TennCare since last fall. It's called a standing wheelchair.

Numerous studies have shown that these chairs provide improved circulation, bone density, and place weight on the legs and feet where Clayton needs it.

Clayton's insurance company and TennCare rejected her request for a standing chair.

"Neither one will pay for it because I am in a nursing home," said Clayton.

A letter from TennCare says she was denied because she has access to a standing wheelchair at the rehabilitation center.

However, at the Harriman Care and Rehabilitation Center where she lives, there is no standing wheelchair.

We watched for eight minutes as two skilled physical therapists ever so carefully moved Clayton out of her old wheelchair. Then as safely and as gently as possible, they aligned her body for even pressure and lifted her, without causing any pain or stress, into a standing position and into a standing frame where she stands until her therapists return and reverse the process.

Clayton says the process pulls the muscles, causing her legs to contract and straighten out. She says if she had access to a standing wheelchair, she could do it herself instead of going through that process five days a week.

"We would be glad if she had that standing wheelchair. It is not that we don't want to do this. We would be glad to do this everyday, but I know during weekends, she would benefit from it," said physical therapist Carlo Cereno.

On long weekends and away from the rehabilitation center, Clayton is confined to her chair in the sitting position all day long which can lead to debilitating sores, like she's experienced in the past.

"Her visit for her bed sores when she went to the hospital, she was there for three months. It was a long stay. I'm sure it cost more than a chair would cost," said Anke.

A special standing wheelchair would cost about $34,000, but her daughters say if their mother had one she could stand on her own when her body tells her she needs to. 

Clayton says physically and mentally, a standing chair would improve her quality of life. Then there are the grandkids.

"[I want them] to see me standing up," she said.

6 On Your Side contacted TennCare asking for further clarification about Clayton being turned down for the standing wheelchair. 

TennCare says presently, Clayton's health plan is conducting an evaluation of her request and a response is expected sometime in early march.

We don't know what the outcome will be, but Clayton has not given up hope for that standing wheelchair.

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