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First Steps Wellness Centre is a non-profit organization with charitable status. We provide leading edge exercise-based therapy to people with spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and Multiple Sclerosis. We have also applied our methods to other neuromuscular disorders such as Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injuries. Programs are custom-designed for our clients using the latest research and equipment for exercise-based recovery methods. Our goal is to improve the quality of life of people who have suffered neuro-muscular trauma or who have neuromuscular conditions. Improved overall health, independence, and quality of life are all part of our organizational mission statement.  We believe in recognizing potential, not limits.

Exercise Below the Level of Injury

FSWC applies leading edge exercise-based rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injuries (SCI). We set up programs that exercise the entire body including below the level of injury. Exercise below the level of injury is important because of the body’s ability to bypass the injury or produce new pathways through neuro-plasticity.

As the mechanics of neuro-plasticity continue to be studied, FSWC turns these concepts into practical gains for our clients by customizing exercise programs that stimulate the body to regrow nerves and to promote neuro-plasticity.

The net result of our intensive exercise programs is that people with spinal cord injuries can see functional gains in their conditions. In 12% of our cases at FSWC clients have been able to walk again after a spinal cord injury. However, 94% of our clients to date have been able to make functional gains resulting in increased independence and quality of life.

Why Exercise-Based Rehabilitation is Important

The body responds to demands placed on it. Research shows that nerves can regrow if the nervous system is stimulated. However, if you fail to stimulate the nervous system, the body does not respond and the nerves and muscle tissue atrophy.

Exercise therapy helps clients to halt atrophy and to make functional gains below their level of injury. Although the mechanics of this are currently being studied, the practical gains that have been made by First Steps clients in all cases points to the effectiveness of these techniques. As science continues to catch up to this therapy, First Steps continues to develop, monitor and apply the latest research to our exercise programs.

Practical Gains using Exercise Therapy

Exercise Therapy for spinal cord injuries has been and is being applied around the world. Some European jurisdictions have been using these techniques for decades. In Canada, there are a handful of centers that are beginning to apply these techniques including First Steps Wellness Centre.

While medical research continues to make gains on treatment modalities for spinal cord injuries, FSWC is committed to putting this research into practical programs for people with SCIs right now. Regardless of future treatment methods, all newly-developed treatment protocols will depend on working with the client in their current condition. So all people with SCI’s should try to prevent atrophy and increase or maintain their overall physical fitness. Any future treatment breakthroughs will inevitably be dependent on the level of injury and the amount of atrophy that has taken place.