A spinal cord injury (SCI) is damage or trauma to the spinal cord that results in a loss of function causing reduced sensation and/or impaired mobility. Activity based exercise programs for those with spinal cord injuries has been shown to improve and recover function, even past the “two year window,” prevent secondary complications and positively impact psychological well being.
CORE Program Focus Areas
Functional Electrical Stimulation
Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is considered to be an effective method by multiple qualified researchers in the field to reduce the risk of secondary medical complications caused by a spinal cord injury and enhance cardiovascular responses. In addition to benefits such as reversed muscle atrophy, increased circulation, maintained or increased joint range of motion, reduced spasticity, reduced incidence of urinary and bladder infections, osteoporosis prevention and cardiovascular health there is also research being done to determine what occurs in the spinal cord in regards to nervous system repair during a functional electrical stimulation (FES) session.It has already been proven that functional electrical stimulation (FES) can enhance progenitor cell generation in the injured adult central nervous system (CNS).
“The results (of studies like these) raise the exciting possibility that in addition to the physical and rehabilitative benefits of functional electrical stimulation (FES), FES may offer a pragmatic approach to augmentation of spontaneous repair and perhaps recovery of neurological function.” (Becker et. al., 2010)
CORE offers the latest in functional electrical stimulation (FES) technology, and a variety of FES Program options.
Range of Motion/Flexibility Training
The ability to move freely to and from places is often taken for granted. For the individual who has sustained a spinal cord injury, maintaining flexibility is important when seeking to avoid pressure sores, pain or injury. In doing so, joint contractures are prevented and the integrity of the joint maintained.
The name ‘CORE’ literally comes from our repeated mantra that a strong core is essential. The core is what stabilizes the entire neuromusculoskeletal system. Clients with spinal cord injuries, in particular, benefit from balance and proprioception exercises. This involves purposely creating instability, which forces the body to react and therefore strengthens the supporting muscles and reinforces the neural component. Balance training can help increase function, reduce reaction times to prevent injury and increase positional awareness.
In addition to balance training, posture is also important to stabilizing the neuromusculoskeletal system. Poor posture, often a result of sitting in a wheelchair, sets up and exacerbates muscle imbalances, causing pain and fatigue. Core strengthening exercises and proper postural alignment will be utilized during every aspect of the CORE treatment program for spinal cord injured clients to allow for an optimal workout and to increase function and safety while decreasing pain.
Whole Body Vibration Training
Whole body vibration (WBV) training is implemented through the use of a vibrating platform on which static poses are held or dynamic exercises are performed. Whole body vibration (WBV) training stimulates muscle spindle fibers, creating a reflexive signal to the spinal cord causing muscles to contract or relax, regardless of spinal cord injury (SCI). It is essentially a way to exercise without the need for incredible endurance, which benefits some of our quadriplegic clients who may fatigue at a quicker rate. The reported effects of whole body vibration (WBV) training within the neurorehabilitation field led the the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami to conduct a pilot study that concluded whole body vibration (WBV) training improves walking function in individuals with spinal cord injury. More and more studies are looking at whole body vibration, its’ cellular effects and what clinical conditions best respond to this type of therapy. Studies have already shown whole body vibration can increase balance and mobility, increase bone density, increase range of motion and increase plyometric muscle strength, as well as reduce postural sway.
Muscular Strength and Endurance Training
CORE incorporates muscular strength and endurance training into every program for a spinal cord injury client to promote functional gains, build muscle mass and increase independence, which also improves the overall quality of life.
Cardiovascular conditioning, regardless of injury, is essential to maintaining a healthy heart muscle and to having the endurance to meet daily activity needs. CORE incorporates interval training for an effective and efficient aerobic workout.