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U of U Health Care Rehab Center's TRAILS Helps Create Paralympic Sport - Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY – The U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and University of Utah Health's Rehabilitation Services TRAILS (Therapeutic Recreation and Independent LifeStyles) program, have partnered to create Paralympic Sport – Salt Lake City, the local chapter of the national U.S. Paralympic Sport network.

Paralympic Sport – Salt Lake City is a community-based recreational sports club developed to involve youth and adults with physical and visual disabilities in ongoing sports and physical activity, regardless of skill level. All programs and activities will be based in the Salt Lake City area and organized by the U of U Health's TRAILS program. With support from the U.S. Paralympics, TRAILS athletes can also work toward competing at the U.S. Paralympic level if they choose. Currently there are a few TRAILS athletes who are considering this possibility and working toward their goals.  

“U.S. Paralympics is dedicated to creating opportunities for individuals with physical and visual disabilities to be physically active and involved in their communities,” said Mike Mushett, U.S. Paralympics Director of Community Programs. “Participation in physical activity enhances not only self-esteem and peer relationships, but also results in greater achievement, better overall health, and higher quality of life.”

With 21 million Americans living with a physical or visual disability, including thousands of military personnel who've been severely injured while on active duty, this is an important community need. Anyone in the community is welcome to participate, regardless of their disability or where they were treated. Opportunities are open to those with spinal cord injury, amputees, and other disease or injury related disabilities. Activities include hand-cycling, cross country skiing, kayaking, downhill skiing, swimming, sailing, and wheelchair tennis.

The U of U Rehabilitation Center is a 38-bed acute inpatient rehabilitation center that offers the full continuum of care, from inpatient rehabilitation services and outpatient rehabilitation therapies, to outpatient physician follow-up care and TRAILS. The clinicians at the Rehabilitation Center are highly skilled, with disability-specific training and experience in treating the unique symptoms of brain and spinal cord injury, stroke, and other neurological conditions. The U’s Rehabilitation Center is the only rehabilitation center in Utah that is not only accredited by The Joint Commission, but also holds multiple accreditations by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). 

“The University of Utah Rehabilitation Center is very excited to be a partner of the Paralympic Sport Club network,” says Nancy Christensen-Mayer, director of Rehabilitation Services. “The professionals in the Rehabilitation Center understand that our job extends far beyond simply providing great patient care. We strongly feel that access to daily ongoing physical activity is a huge part of the rehabilitation process.”

Through education, sports programs, and the partnership with the U.S. Paralympics, the U of U Rehabilitation Center will continue to prepare individuals with physical and visual disabilities to engage in active living through sports and recreational experiences. Through this partnership, the Rehabilitation Center will continue to grow its programs so that all persons in the community with physical and visual disabilities will have the opportunity to develop an active lifestyle.

U.S. Paralympics is committed to working with community organizations across the United States to create 250 Paralympic Sport Clubs by 2012. For more information on who to get involved with Paralympic Sport – Salt Lake City, contact TRAILS Program Coordinator Tanja Kari at (801) 581-2526 or via e-mail at Activities are going on now, and anyone is invited to jump in and get started.

For more information about U.S. Paralympics, please contact Susan Katz, (719) 866-2068 or

About U.S. Paralympics

U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, is dedicated to becoming the world leader in the Paralympic sports movement and to promoting excellence in the lives of persons with physical disabilities. Visit the U.S. Paralympics website at


Therapeutic Recreation and Independent Lifestyles (TRAILS) is a spinal cord injury (SCI) outreach program based at the University of Utah Health Care Rehabilitation Center—now known as Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital. TRAILS is designed to prepare individuals with SCI to engage in active living through sports and exercise programs, recreational experiences and education. Providing year round programming, TRAILS offers an excellent opportunity for individuals to develop an active lifestyle. These programs and resources serve as an important extension to hospital based rehabilitation and facilitates lifelong activity and wellness. TRAILS offers the following sports and recreation programs: cross country skiing, downhill skiing, hand cycling, kayaking, sailing, swimming and wheelchair tennis. Programs provide adaptive equipment and assistance with all sports. The activities take place in multiple locations in the Salt Lake City area. Activities are staffed by volunteers and professionals who specialize in SCI rehabilitation.