UofU’s New Rehabilitation Hospital Helps Man With Broken Neck Walk Again

Aug 19, 2020, 6:06 PM | Updated: 10:50 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Spinal cord injuries and brain trauma can be life-altering but a new state-of-the-art rehabilitation hospital in Utah is giving a man who broke his neck and his mother hope.

When he needed her, nothing could keep single mother Dori Sugihara away from her son. Not miles nor a pandemic.

“We got to touch him. We got to see him through Facetime, but it’s still not the same,” said Sugihara, who lives in Hawaii.

Her son, Ohlen Sugihara, of West Haven, is in the Air Force and loves to swim and restore old cars. Dori hopes Ohlen’s treatment at University of Utah Health’s new Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital will give him back his life.

Ohlen swung into shallow water at Pineview Reservoir July 1, hitting the bottom head first.

“Everything down was paralyzed. I couldn’t move anything,” he said. “I thought I was going to drown. All I had was hope, and that hope got me to shore.”

His brother rescued him from the water and the long recovery began.

The 75-bed rehabilitation hospital is one of the most advanced in the nation, with the world’s longest ZeroG track — a robotic system that connects to an overhead track that helps Ohlen safely practice walking again.

Sugihara walks up and down steps on ZeroG track.

In his room, there’s smart, hands-free technology. “With voice, with touch, they can sip a straw and control the blinds, and they can also control it from the bed speaker as well,” said James Gardner an occupational therapist with University of Utah Health.

A special kitchen teaches what’s possible for life after the hospital. “Simple things that can be put into any household cabinet, so a rack that comes down and makes things easy to get to,” said Chris Noren, University of Utah Health’s director of in-patient therapy services.

Downstairs, a garage filled with adaptive sporting equipment demonstrates possibilities. Program coordinator Keegan Buffington showed how a special snow ski works. “There’s suspension shocks here so it can absorb any shocks, bumps, or big drops. Really this acts as a stand-up skier’s knees work,” said Buffington.

Program Director Keegan Buffinton shows how an adaptive downhill ski works at the new Craig H. Nielsen Rehabilitation Hospital.

It’s giving Ohlen and his mother optimism.

“Being a mom and not being able to fix your child; it’s heart-wrenching,” she said. “It’s hard. I’m hoping that he will walk and get everything back.”

Ohlen said, “I was losing motivation and hope, I just wanted to give up. But I regained that when I came here.”

Not much can come between them. In the wake of a devastating injury: an unbreakable bond.

Ohlen is making great progress.

He was released Wednesday, and able to walk out of the hospital.

KSL 5 TV Live


Anna Thorley

March 4 – Tonight

22 hours ago

Luanne Monson

KSL Investigates: New Prison New Problems TOMORROW 10PM

Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook

23 hours ago

Luanne Monson

March 4 – MONDAY

Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook

5 days ago

Anna Thorley

March 4 – Tonight

5 days ago

Luanne Monson

KSL Investigates: New Prison New Problems TONIGHT 10PM

Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook

6 days ago

Gwyneth Paltrow speaks with retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, left, as she walks out of the cour...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

London comedy musical spoofing Gwyneth Paltrow court case is coming to Utah

A London comedy musical spoofing last year's infamous Gwyneth Paltrow Utah court case is coming to the city where the story began after the play's run in the United Kingdom came to an end.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

UofU’s New Rehabilitation Hospital Helps Man With Broken Neck Walk Again