An essential part of the recovery process for victims of spinal cord, head or disabling injuries is rehabilitation, on both an inpatient and an outpatient basis.

Before October, such treatment was available only in Salt Lake City or Ogden. Then Utah Valley Regional Medical Center opened its Intermountain Rehabilitation Center."In the past patients and families who had to deal with these types of injuries and disease have had to travel sometimes hundreds of miles for help," said Ron Liston, administrative director of the new center.

"But that will no longer be the case with the opening of the rehabilitation center at Utah Valley. Now people will have that rehabilitation available right here close to home, which is something very important to the whole rehab process."

The rehabilitation center was located within the hospital, but this week it moved into a new, $2.5 million facility constructed at the south end of the hospital, 1034 N. Fifth West.

An open house for the public will be Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the new facility.

Rehabilitative medicine is essentially a new area of treatment, according to Liston and Jeanine Mitchell, nursing director over the new center. A push has been made in recent years to re-educate and retrain victims of head injuries in an effort to improve the quality of their lives and return them to their families instead of placing them in care centers or nursing homes.

The new 19-bed facility at UVRMC will treat people with physically debilitating conditions through a program of medical and therapeutic services, including physical therapy, nutrition services, speech therapy, orthotics, occupational therapy and audiology.

The center features state-of-the-art equipment and therapy areas such as a swimming pool, kitchen, exercise room and a transitional room used to help patients adjust to the change from hospital to home before discharge.

Liston expects the facility to have an average of seven patients in residence.

For more information about the center call 379-7370.