TRAILS offers support to spinal patients

By Jenna Miller, Staff Writer

When Derek Barney experienced a spinal cord injury in May, he and his family initially didn’t know what resources they could turn to for help.

“There is just no way to prepare for an injury like this until you are going through it,” Barney said. “You just have such limited knowledge.”

But after Barney, a student at Utah Valley University, was injured last May, he sought help from the U Therapeutic Recreation and Independent Lifestyles center. “It takes a program like this that offers new insight,” Barney said.

In its fourth year of helping spinal cord injury patients, TRAILS is an eight-week program designed to complete three goals for SCI patients: education, socialization and an increase of active living. The program offered an exposition on Tuesday night for patients to talk to other patients and vendors about different kinds of wheelchairs and new technology coming out that could help them.

The program offers multiple lectures and special events, including two expositions, that allow patients to meet with vendors for the latest advances in SCI products.

“In our area there can be anywhere from 100 to 150 spinal cord injuries a year, and the people suffering these injuries need a place to come to get information (about) continuing on in an active life,” said Lynette Ballard, a clinical social worker for TRAILS.

The program, which is affiliated with the University Health Care Rehabilitation Center and supported by the Craig H. Neilson Foundation, is constantly growing and striving to provide all patients with useful tactics for dealing with their injuries, said Stan Clawson, an adviser on the TRAILS board and an SCI patient. This year, TRAILS began offering video conferencing so patients can view forums from University Hospitals and Clinics and Intermountain Health Care.

Clawson said it is important to stay active with a spinal cord injury because inactivity can put patients back in the hospital.

“Thirteen years ago, when I suffered from my SCI, they didn’t offer programs like this,” Clawson said. “It is so important for me to mentor the people here because each year research is being done to improve the education and lifestyle available for SCI patients.”

TRAILS is offering an information forum April 28 with an exposition in Liberty Park.

[email protected]

Thien Sok

Stan Clawson, and advisor on the TRAILS board, speaks with other people in TRAILS during a Spinal Cord Injury forum. The SCI forums are meant to help participants make contacts and meet others that are involved with the SCI programs.