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U. wins $359,951 grant to link S.L. to rural clinics

The University of Utah won a $359,951 federal grant this week to link specialists in Salt Lake City by video with rural clinics in Vernal and Richfield.

Vice President Al Gore announced it as one of 55 projects sharing $20.9 million designed to expand benefits of the information age to people in rural areas."The winners of these grants are the pioneers of the information age," Gore said.

The Utah project is designed to allow bimonthly teleconferencing between the State Department of Children with Special Health Care Needs and rural clinics that lack specialized pediatric care and therapists.

Parents otherwise would have to drive 100 miles or more for such visits.

Grant documents said, for example, "at an initial face-to-face exam (via video), a physical therapist shows the mother of a child with cerebral palsy some specific exercises.

"At a follow-up appointment, the therapist observes the mother working with the child, suggests modifications and addresses specific questions and concerns. A third telemedicine session . . . enables the therapist to assess the child's progress and suggest additional exercises," documents said.

The Commerce Department said it received more than 900 applications for the grants requesting more than $350 million in funding.