Treatment & Recovery

The First Six Months
Planning for recovery should start while still in the hospital. With each day the body and brain adapt to their new environment making improvement harder to achieve. During the first six months, a client's future may be determined. Waiting too long to begin the recovery process causes the body to adapt to the spinal cord injury environment. Without proper stimulation, gravity and load bearing, the human body will deteriorate. This means a lose of bone density, muscle mass and central nervous system function. In this environment, muscles are controlled by spasms and will shorten to fit the wheelchair. These issues can be reduced or avoided through targeted exercise.

More and more doctors are referring newly injured clients to Project Walk. These clients start right out of the hospital, some still in neck and back braces. These clients, including those with an Asia A diagnosis, have regained some function and several have gone on to walk. We cannot predict a spinal cord injury, rehabilitation, SCI, rehabilitation, project walkclient's future but with our program clients have an opportunity to influence their own outcome.

A recovery plan should begin the day of injury. It is imperative that clients research and understand the facts of their injury. What many are being told in the hospital and rehab is based on the last 50 years of occupational medicine; not recovery. The field of spinal cord injury rehab is shifting; Project Walk is at the forefront of that shift.
Ten Things To Know
Your Treatment Today
Your treatment today should focus on regaining function. You have the rest of your life to live in a wheelchair and the time is clicking away for you to get out of it. Start today and give yourself the best chance. Your focal point should be below the level of injury and remember that our clients progress slowly but with each improvement comes an increased quality of life and independence

Traditional Treatment

Of the over 12,000 spinal cord injuries a year, only a small percentage regain the ability to walk. The reason is not always the injury, but the lack of treatment. Looking at traditional treatment we should  consider this; if you place an able-bodied person in a reduced gravity environment (wheel-chair) then tell them they can’t move for a year, heavily medicate them, and give them no hope, what will be the outcome? Bone density, muscle mass, and nervous system activity would begin to shut down and disappear. That able- bodied person would have the same symptoms of a paralyzed person.  We know that not every new injury will regain their desired function, but since 1999, a significant number of our clients have regained greater function than believed possible.

Is Recovery Guaranteed?
Nothing in life is guaranteed, but if you do nothing to promote recovery, you are almost guaranteed a life without it. Taking care of yourself and taking control of your future is what makes life worth living. At Project Walk we can’t promise that you will walk again. We do promise the best facility, a positive environment for healing, the best and most highly trained and skilled staff in the world in the field of exercise-based recovery and a long-term, realistic plan that fits your needs as an individual.

spinal cord injury support, rehabilitation support, social network, peer supportHow Long Should I Wait Before I Start My Recovery?

Once you are no longer in intensive care and transferred to rehab, are healthy, and have your doctor’s clearance, you should start. Every day, every month, and every year that you sit in your wheelchair without nervous system stimulation, the harder it will become to regain function.

We have seen clients two or more years post injury struggle tremendously with tone and spasm because they did not receive the proper stimulation early on. The unfortunate thing is that these individuals are not alone. Each year hundreds of people wiggle their toes, get return of sensation down their bodies, some can even create movement, but they are told these occurrences are common and don’t mean anything. But it does mean something; it means everything. Your future depends on nervous system stimulation to improve.

What is the Timeline to Regain Function?
There is no timeline or deadline for regaining function. Each person and injury is different. Think of recovery as a lifetime process; it only stops when you stop trying.

The Doctor Tells Us We Have Up To Two Years to Recover
The doctors are correct in one aspect of the two-year window theory--your body is trying to recover and most people see the majority of their gains in the first two-years. If your body is trying to regain function, why not do everything in your power to increase your chances. However, you can still recover function well past the two-year mark. We have worked with people 10 plus years post injury who are still regaining function. Our message to you is, "do not wait."

How Long is a Recovery Program?
There is no set standard on how long it will take to regain function. Every person has their own goals and desired outcomes and works towards their needs. Each person and the damage they have sustained are different; therefore, you cannot compare yourself to others because each person regains function differently.

spinal cord injury, rehabilitation, SCI, rehabilitation, project walkUltimately, recovery is a lifetime program as we do not heal the body, we retrain the body. As a result, this lifelong program must include all aspects of your life. What you do outside of Project Walk is equally as important as what you do inside. Successful clients who are regaining function become independent, go back to school or work, and are surrounded by supportive family and friends. Because there is no timeline for recovery, you must develop and implement a life plan.

Everyone needs hope. Without HOPE you cannot recover.

Should I Give up Everything and Try to Recover?
No, you cannot give up your life, family and friends to pursue recovery. Too often we meet someone who has moved across the country with the determination and mindset that they are going to get better and return home walking, only to fail. Add in undue stress and unattainable recovery timelines and you have an unhappy ending for everyone involved. Clients who keep their support network and continue on with life are recovering. Recovery is a long process and is not all about walking; it is also about your life and how you live it.

You Must Stimulate Your Lower Body or You Will Not Regain Function
This is a true statement. Humans do not work as individual parts, the body is one unit and the nervous system has multiple complex jobs. One of its primary functions, however, is to deal with gravity by creating a stable upright posture. When you introduce gravity to the postural skeletal muscles, you stimulate the nervous system creating a demand on this primary function. Unless you treat the body with load bearing and closed chain exercises using developmental movement patterns, you will achieve very little improvement.
San Diego, CA