The Teen Rehab at Craig (TRAC) program was developed as a comprehensive and inclusive opportunity for teen patients and their families to empower each other during the rehab process. The program offers a series of classes specifically for teens, geared toward physical, emotional and social changes, while also addressing their unique learning needs.
“It doesn’t always make sense to have teens with the adults,” said Candy Tefertiller, director of physical therapy at Craig. “Although mentor relationships are extremely important, enabling teens to interact with their own peer group is important, too. It provides an opportunity for teens to talk about topics like sexual health, skin care, bladder care and more. We want to make sure they feel comfortable discussing these sensitive issues.”
TRAC participants can also engage in Therapeutic Recreation outings and Craig-based activities on Sundays. These activities give teens a chance to have fun together and reconnect with their passions while practicing the skills they’re learning in therapy. Activities range from going to a Broncos game to visiting the 16th Street Mall in Downtown Denver or enjoying BBQs on the Craig campus. Friends from home are encouraged to join in many of these activities. “These activities are most successful when patients, families and friends from home come together,” Tefertiller said. “In the TRAC program, all the teens are facing similar challenges so it is a safe environment, but outside is different. There needs to be a collaborative support system in place to get patients back out in the community.”
TRAC parent/family support groups meet every other Tuesday. A psychologist and a social worker talks with the families about how things may look different and how to manage these differences when transitioning back to home. Once a peer group completes the TRAC classes, they often continue to meet together and with peer mentors from the community to help share information and feedback.
TRAC also has a school program for teen patients to continue their studies at a level of engagement appropriate to their rehabilitation status. It helps them maintain ties with their schools and peers. A licensed teacher coordinates closely with each student and family, the Craig care team, school personnel and assistive technology experts. “When a teen transitions from the hospital to home and home back to school, we have our teacher available to offer support. We are really proud that Craig is one of only a few rehabilitation centers nationwide with a teacher on site,” said Tefertiller.