Sunday, August 26, 2007


In the third week of August Ben and I took advantage of the free week that Sci-Step offers. I thought it was an awesome experience.

Sci-Step describes their therapy program as an "Activity based recovery program"

"In the past, rehabilitation after a spinal cord injury focused on adaptation to the injury. It was believed that the possibility of improvement would occur during the first six months and that recovery more than two years after an injury was unattainable.

Over the last few years, experts committed to the philosophy that with the right combination of therapies, recovery is possible - even months or years after an injury, helped changed the future for individuals suffering from a spinal cord injury.

SCI-Step offers these proven techniques to acute and chronic spinal cord injuries, allowing the ability to recover independence, movement and sensation, as well as, attain improved health and quality of life."

bullet Functional Electrical Stimulation
bullet Gait Training
bullet Weight Bearing
bullet Cardiovascular Conditioning
bullet Orthodic Training
bullet Isolated Muscle Movements
bullet Strength Training
bullet Aquatic Therapy
bullet Acupuncture
bullet Massage Therapy
bullet Nutrition Counseling

We got there on Sunday and were very impressed by the housing that Sci-Step provides. There was a note on the table that read, "Welcome Joe and Ben. See you in the morning." We had a two bedroom apartment with all the comforts of home. On top of that, the complex has a pool, computer center, and a small movie theater that can be reserved.

Now the therapy...

We got to Sci-Step in the morning, finished some paper work and got right to work. The physical evaluation was almost like a workout for me. Matt stretched and tested the strength in my legs and then asked me to demonstrate my walking.

A little history about my function... I have a C6/7 incomplete spinal cord injury. This means that I have some sensation and motor function below my injury level. I can stand and even walk short distances with a walker. Unfortunately for me this also means that I have uncontrollable muscle spasms that make my legs shake, bounce and even contort into strange and painful positions. I take a fair amount of medications to combat that on a daily basis.

Up until this point I had been able to walk about 30 feet at a time with a walker, then I was done. That's about what I did. Then Matt says that we are going to try wall squats and gets one of those exercise balls. With Matt's help I did 20 wall squats and made it back to my chair. Now I 'm thinking that we're probably done. Nope, it's time to ride the "Ergys2" FES (functional electrical stimulation) bicycle. They put 12 pads on my legs and rear, set me up in the bike, and turned on the electrical stimulation. I have enough sensation that I could only handle an E-stim level of 30. That makes me "hyper sensitive". It takes a level of about 130 to cause a contraction strong enough to move the large leg muscles, but even at 30 there was a tingly zapping feeling that helped me initiate a muscle contraction. I rode this bike for an hour, helping my legs move the peddles around. I liked the RTI FES bike a little better. It works off of the same theories, but has a motor to help your legs around when your muscles fatigue. Now I was done. What a first day. My lower back, glutes, and legs felt like they were on fire. Interestingly enough I almost forgot to take my meds. Usually I can tell time by the way that my body feels and how soon I'm supposed to take my meds. This ended up being a theme for the week. My muscles were so relaxed that I didn't feel like I really needed my antispasmodic meds.

Our days in Mason, OH went just like that. We would get up, work out for three hours, eat lunch, head back to the apartment, and I would have to lay down for a while. Later we got the chance to enjoy the pool in the apartment complex.

My experience at Sci-Step showed me that I could control my spasms and strengthen my muscles at the same time, if I had the resources. I almost forgot... It wasn't all work and no fun. On Wednesday I got my first acupuncture treatment and on Thursday I got my first full body massage.

Maybe I can get Ben to comment on his experience at Sci-Step...?


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Adaptive water ski clinic, Twin Lakes WI

There was a pretty good turn out for the clinic. I went on August 1st and 2nd. It was a blast. The clinic was open to kids of all abilities and ages. Adaptive Adventures and Dreams For Kids also had a hand cycle vendor there and kayaks to try.

Water skiing is one of my favorite things to do since my injury, but there were a few people that have expressed concerns about how safe it is. The people organizing this clinic have done so for 12 years and take every safety precaution necessary. For beginners or people with little to no hand function or trunk control. They have a sit ski with outriggers. This makes it nearly impossible to tip over.

They also have a "chase boat", that follows all of the skiers. This boat has volunteers that are ready to assist in any way needed. For questions or a more detailed description, email or call. I will leave you with a few more pictures from the event.


September Meeting

Our September meeting will be on August 25th. The first weekend in September is Labor Day Weekend and many people already have plans.

We will have the meeting at my house, 1pm. Email or call 219-531-0055 for directions or more information.