The Transformational Gift of Rehab
By: Author: Jeffrey Rosenbluth, MD | Nov 3, 2017 5:00 PM
Jeffrey Rosenbluth, MD
Ground has been broken. In just two years, the Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital will open at the heart of our medical campus. Without question, the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation’s nearly $50M gift represents a transformational boost. But ceremonial shovelfuls of dirt mark more than expansion of health care facilities. They also signify a groundbreaking expansion of the philosophy, scope and capability of medical rehabilitation at University of Utah Health.
Philosophy: Getting Back to Living
Rehabilitation means more than just getting patients out of the hospital. Our philosophy has always been to help patients get back to everyday living. That means getting them back to work, back to enjoying their families, back to their hobbies—whatever they might be—and to having a renewed sense of enjoyment and purpose. Emotional well-being and physical well-being go hand in hand.
The facilities available in the new Rehab Hospital will enhance patient recovery in both of those areas. They will even allow patients themselves to contribute to research and therapy innovations. Our patients will experience therapy like never before, testing new technologies and offering insight to doctors and therapists. This will have the dual effect of empowering patients in their own recoveries and transforming rehabilitative medicine for future patients.
There is no more fitting example of a patient bringing about better care than Craig H. Neilsen himself. Neilsen, a U of U alum, became a successful real-estate developer, owner of a construction company, and founder of Ameristar Casinos. Sadly, a car accident left him paralyzed from the neck down and with only slight movement in one hand.
Craig didn’t let the accident stop him. Grateful for treatment that returned him to his busy life, he established the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, now the largest private supporter of spinal cord injury causes in North America. Neilsen’s son Ray is co-trustee and chairman of the foundation’s board of directors. He says his father, who passed away in 2006, was “a force of vision and passion who wanted nothing more than to help people like him. This new hospital promises advanced care in an environment that will offer dignity and hope.”
Scope: Full Campus Involvement
The Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital will enjoy distinct advantages as part of a comprehensive academic medical center that is consistently ranked among the nation’s leaders in quality and patient satisfaction. Deeper rehab care innovations will come by leveraging partnerships with academic and research entities across the entire university and health system.
Faculty, students and industry leaders from rehabilitation, engineering, computer science, health disciplines and more will work side by side with patients in collaborative space designed especially for that purpose. These cross-disciplinary teams will push the boundaries of recovery and create a strong culture around developing assistive technologies.
Patients will be the big winners here. In an environment where real-world situations meet real-world technology, people will develop sustainable, low-cost ways of getting high-tech gear into the hands of those with disabilities.
Capability: Unique in the Nation
The Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital also will accelerate technical innovations that are already revolutionizing rehabilitative medicine. It will be the only facility in the nation with a mobility garage—an actual, functional garage. This fully outfitted, climate-controlled space is designed for therapists and patients to explore the use of its tools and has a wide range of mobility devices, such as adapted cars/vans, off-road wheelchairs, hand-powered bicycles, and experimental devices designed by University of Utah engineers.
Unique outdoor treatment spaces with year-round access will encourage patients to practice mobility skills on varying terrain. For example, garden plots will help in re-learning and refining motor skills. These outdoor facilities will also provide a relaxing environment for patients and families.
Every aspect of this innovative facility has been meticulously designed to offer
the most advanced rehabilitative care.
This new 150,000-squarefoot hospital effectively doubles our current rehab care capacity. Each of the 75 private patient rooms will be fully customizable and come equipped with home automation technology to enhance patient independence with lights, music, TV and temperature control. In-room communication, gaming and respite opportunities will set a new standard of care.
When the Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital opens in Spring 2020, it will be the West’s destination hospital for patients recovering from life-altering injuries and diseases. And as one of the most advanced rehabilitation facilities in the nation, it will transform the lives of our patients. It will allow them to get back to living.
Tetraplegics and quadriplegics demonstrate Tetra ski devices developed by
University of Utah Health rehabilitation teams.