Community Highlight: WALK IT OFF Spinal Cord Wellness Centre Inc.
The National Benefit Authority advocates for an inclusive and accessible community. We believe it’s important to highlight and thank those in our community who are contributing positively to our people and making a difference. Our very first highlight is WALK IT OFF Spinal Cord Wellness Centre Inc. Read their guest post below to learn about how they support those with spinal cord injuries.
Who are we?
Walk It Off Spinal Cord Wellness Centre Inc. (Walk It Off) is a not-for-profit organization located in Newmarket, part of the Greater Toronto Area. Walk It Off provides exercise-based therapy for the promotion of nervous system stimulation and recovery. Since 2012, Walk It Off has opened its’ doors to individuals of all ages living with a variety of neurological conditions such as spinal cord injury, post-stroke, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and acquired brain injury. We are continually growing and welcome all individuals living with neurological dysfunction to come see what we do!
What makes Walk It Off different?
Walk It Off is a paralysis rehabilitation clinic with a unique atmosphere focused on celebrating health, wellness and athleticism for all. We encourage socialization and bridging relationships between clients who are in both similar and different situations. Within the clinic, our clients have access to a different therapeutic resource – other clients/caregivers. Our open concept facility allows for the promotion of conversation and idea sharing; friendly competition and encouragement through group challenges while on their road to recovery. Our clients are out of their wheelchairs for the duration of their session. Clients can expect to complete a variety of exercises including but not limited to core stability and strengthening, assisted ambulation/gait-training, and load-bearing exercises such as kneeling and standing. Our program offers our clients an opportunity to get out of their wheelchairs and get moving in ways their bodies were meant to move, but typically would not have the opportunity without
Nervous System Activation Technique
Nervous System Activation Technique (NSAT) is a method that has been specially developed within Walk It Off. NSAT incorporates the use of external stimulation and repetitive movements with increased sensory input to aid in nervous system stimulation, increased proprioception, and connection with active movements. NSAT has been found to be helpful in a multitude of clients who strive to increase their sensory and motor connection.
Our approach to recovery and rehabilitation is unique in that our focus is on recovering function and increasing sensation in the paralyzed areas of the body. Each client participates one-on-one with a Neuro-Recovery Trainer, in a personalized training program designed to increase functionality and independence. Whether a client’s goals are to get into a standing position, or transfer independently, or push a marathon, there is no goal too grand or too small to work on. In addition, we provide an intensive maintenance program which focuses on maintaining or improving important qualities such as bone density and range of motion. Exercise also plays a role in aspects of health like bowel/bladder, cardiovascular and mental health wellness. For those who are looking to get into adaptive sport or already participate in a sport, we also provide athletic specific training!
The Walk It Off program is enriched by our equipment ranging from standard gym equipment modified for specific mobility restrictions to state-of-the-art rehabilitative technology. We recently acquired a partial body-weight support system over elliptical, the Madonna Intelligently Controlled Assistive Rehabilitative Elliptical (ICARE). The Madonna ICARE facilitates walking with a range of assistance, depending on the the individuals ability needs. Our Madonna ICARE is the only of its kind in Ontario and one of three in all of Canada. Similarly, Walk It Off hosts a partial body-weight support system over treadmill for safe, assisted ambulation for individuals of all mobility levels.
Walk It Off is proud to offer the only Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) bicycle north of Toronto. Featuring both a lower extremity and upper extremity ergometers, our FES bicycle allows for personalized gait training sessions with the functional electrical stimulation of the weak or paralyzed muscles. In addition to the ICARE, LiteGait over treadmill, and FES bicycle, we make use of creativity, specialized workouts, and standard gym equipment in a modified manner to ensure you receive the workout you need and want. All in all, we want your body to do the work, so we facility the means to make that happen.
Walk It Off is proud to host a staff and board of directors with a variety of experiences and specialities. The founders, Heather and Kevin Mills, both have health care backgrounds working in Advanced Care Paramedicine. In 2009, Heather and Kevin were in Cuba on a family vacation when Kevin was picked up by a wave and driven head first into the sand. Kevin broke his neck, sustaining a Spinal Cord Injury, was diagnosed a C4 ASIA A, tetraplegic (quadriplegic). As a result of the hard work of family, friends and the community, they raised the funds and opened the doors to Walk It Off Spinal Cord Wellness Centre Inc. on January 21, 2012. The Walk If Off Neuro-Recovery Trainers consists of a qualified team of Physiotherapist and Registered Kinesiologists. In addition to post-secondary education and personal specializations, each Neuro-Recovery trainer has undergone rigorous training specific to neurological recovery and education. Each staff member brings their own specialty and character to the facility; we are sure you will enjoy meeting the members of our Walk It Off community.
Although our techniques, equipment, and staff set Walk It Off apart, our clients are the backbone of the program. While all of our clients complete amazing feats, we would like to share some of their accomplishments: four of our younger clients are attending post-secondary institutions and live independently, five have been able to return to work, six started taking steps after being told they would never walk again.
Kevin has been competing in handcycling races for the past three years. Annually, Kevin completes multiple full and half-marathons in his handcycle. His passion and expertise in handcycling has encouraged and helped multiple members of our Walk It Off community also get into the sport!
Jon is actively involved with a few adapted sports such as competitive curling, archery, and golf. Jon has qualified for the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships last year and competed at a provincial level this year.
Danica competed at Worlds with Canadian Women’s Sledge Hockey and Rob is ranked 55th in the world for Quadriplegic Tennis and is competing in the World Team Cup in Italy. We are continually encouraging our clients to participate with us in new and exciting activities. Each month we challenge our clients with a new physical monthly challenge – this month is our in-house March Madness Dunk contest! We are looking forward to clients joining us for our annual accessible curling bonspiel fundraiser and in the spring for an adapted golf workshop. Visit our Youtube channel to watch our client in action. https://www.youtube.com/user/WalkItOffRecovery1
We welcome your comments and would be more that happy to answer any of your questions.