The mission of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation's NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) Community Fitness and Wellness Program is to provide support for the development of specialized facilities for individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) and other physical disabilities. The facilities deliver standardized activity-based interventions for fitness and wellness based on current scientific and clinical evidence. Presently the Community Fitness and Wellness (CFW) facilities are focused on incorporating locomotor training on a treadmill and over ground, electrical stimulation with cycling, cardiovascular exercise and strength training into a complete fitness and wellness program.
The Reeve Foundation's 2009 survey of paralysis and SCI reported that over 5.5 million people live with some form of paralysis, defined by the study as a central nervous system disorder resulting in difficulty or inability to move the upper or lower extremities. Of those, more than 1.2 million are spinal cord injured. Research indicates that individuals living with paralysis can benefit from exercise programs that integrate strength and aerobic fitness training, flexibility exercises and walking practice where feasible. Providing this type of program requires facilities that are fully accessible, have specialized equipment and maintain higher levels of staffing with people trained to provide these interventions to individuals living with paralysis. As a result, exercise facilities have not been able to make the long-term investment to meet the needs of many individuals with SCI in the community.
CFW facilities are part of the Reeve Foundation's NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) umbrella, a cooperative network of seven cutting-edge rehabilitation clinical centers designed to provide and develop therapies to promote improved function, health and quality of life for people living with paralysis. Each clinical center is staffed with professionals who have received specialized training to deliver NRN therapies including center directors, physicians, administrative and clinical supervisors, data managers, physical therapists and activity-based technicians.
As an extension of the clinical Centers, the NRN CFW facilities offer an opportunity for people with physical disabilities to improve their life-long health and fitness through regular exercise and activity-based interventions including locomotor training, electrical stimulation cycling, strength and cardiovascular training. CFW facilities are positioned to give people living in their communities access to affordable and effective activity-based exercise. They are staffed by athletic trainers, personal trainers and exercise physiologists, together referred to as activity-based technicians. These technicians are trained annually by the NRN's clinical centers and existing fitness facility staff. This insures that all CFW facilities deploy fitness and wellness interventions that are standardized across all NRN CFW sites.
All interventions are individualized yet standardized and are progressed according to clients' needs in conjunction with their individual fitness and wellness goals. So too, all outcome measures are standardized across NRN CFW facilities, allowing for the generation of data to measure the effectiveness of health and wellness interventions. Data from SCI participants at both NRN clinical centers and CFW facilities contribute to a network-wide database that includes comprehensive medical and fitness information and outcome measures about the progress of each individual. By collecting and analyzing this information, the NRN is able to determine the effectiveness of strengthening, cardiovascular conditioning, electrical stimulation cycling and locomotor training on health and quality of life.
There are five NRN Community Fitness and Wellness facilities in the United States:
- Courage Center, Minneapolis, MN
Contact Rachel Kath-Dvorak at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Frazier Rehab Institute – Community Fitness and Wellness Facility, Louisville, KY
Contact Karey McDowell at Karey.McDowell@jhsmh.org.
Find out more and download the application here.
- NextSteps Chicago, Willow Springs, IL
Contact Jon O'Connor, Director, email@example.com
- NextStep Fitness, Lawndale, CA
Contact Janne Kouri, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Neuroworx, South Jordan, UT
Contact Dale Hull, M.D., Executive Director, email@example.com
The Reeve Foundation is committed to the continued expansion of its NRN Community Fitness and Wellness Program in order to give people living with paralysis an affordable means to be "fit for life."