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An obesity epidemic is sweeping our nation, and people with spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are not exempt. Physical activity plays an important role for all Americans in the “battle of the bulge”, staying heart healthy and preventing disease (i.e. diabetes). For people in wheelchairs, exercise also helps prevent shoulder pain and joint deterioration and build strength and endurance in upper body muscles. Maintaining a healthy weight – a benefit of increased physical activity – decreases shoulder stress (less weight to wheel) and the risk of skin folds and related sores.
“Many people who have SCIs need help from someone who really knows what they’re doing when they exercise,” said Kathy Thompson, MHA, MA/CCC/SLP, director, WakeMed Acute Rehabilitation Services & Wound Care. “Our SCI patients would tell us that they had this need, but there wasn’t the right source out there to provide the service. That’s when we developed the WakeMed Spinal Cord Injury Fitness Program.”
The WakeMed SCI Program is one-of-a-kind for Wake County. SCI Program participants first meet with a physical therapist and/or occupational therapist to create an individualized fitness program. A fitness specialist then works with the participant as needed. The participant’s fitness program is reevaluated from time to time to ensure it continues to meet their needs. “We are very fortunate to have a fitness specialist who is trained to work with individuals with SCIs on our staff,” added Thompson.
The Spinal Cord Fitness Program is held in the Rehabilitation Gym in the WakeMed Health Park. In the gym, participants have access to state-of-the-art equipment, including:
Fees are based on participants’ needs (such as equipment and level of assistance/supervision) and frequency of workouts. For more information about the WakeMed Spinal Cord Injury Fitness Program, call 919-350-8347 or visit www.wakemed.org and enter “Spinal Cord Injury Fitness Program” in the search box.
With all private rooms and its own therapy gym, the new WakeMed Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Unit is up and running in the WakeMed Rehabilitation Hospital. “Our rehabilitation program for patients who have spinal cord injuries begins in the emergency department when they arrive for surgical and acute care,” explains Kathy Thompson, MHA, MA/CCC/SLP, director, WakeMed Acute Rehabilitation Services.
“Patients and their families can remain at WakeMed throughout the entire surgical, medical, inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient rehabilitation continuum of care and that makes us unique from other facilities. Now that we have a unit specifically dedicated to our patients with SCIs, we have raised the bar even higher.”
For additional information or to schedule a tour of the new WakeMed Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Unit and details about WakeMed’s comprehensive continuum of care for inpatients and outpatients with spinal cord injuries, please call 919-350-8861. For other information about the WakeMed Rehabilitation Hospital, please call 919-350-7876.
3000 New Bern Ave.
Raleigh, NC 27610