UK HealthCare

Rehab Professionals to Hold Conference

LEXINGTON, Ky. – (Sept. 16, 2009) – Spinal cord injury is a life-changing event. The long-term recovery and treatment of such injuries requires a multitude of resources and collaboration that rural regions of Kentucky may be hard-pressed to provide. The Rural Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Conference, being held Sept. 30 at the Center for Rural Development in Somerset, Ky., will focus on developing that collaboration so persons with spinal cord injuries can get the long-term health care they need – regardless of where they live.

"This conference is one of the first times you're going to have students (future health care providers), current health care providers, educators and individuals with spinal cord injuries and their caregivers together hearing the same materials," said Patrick Kitzman, an associate professor of physical therapy at the University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences. "Health care, as well as health care education, is usually very segmented. This is a chance to bring together the entire spectrum of rehabilitation professionals, as well as the people they serve. It’s also a way to help persons with SCI become community advocates, who become integral in developing community-based solutions.”

Topics will include community integration and quality of life, exercise and nutrition, prevention and treatment of secondary complications and developing a peer-mentor support system.

Kitzman is a member of the Kentucky Appalachian Rural Rehabilitation Network (KARRN), which is organizing the conference. KARRN's goal is to identify, develop and disseminate information and strategies, and maximize resources to improve outcomes and quality of life for individuals with neurological impairments living in rural Kentucky Appalachian counties.

"Individuals living in rural areas, especially in Appalachia, face great disadvantages in health care," Kitzman said. "Groups like the Center for Rural Development, the Center for Excellence in Rural Health as well as community training programs and conferences like this are ways we're trying to address this issue."

Registration begins at 8 a.m. on Wed., Sept. 30. For conference details, visit