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Another Journey

You know that saying, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step,” well I am embarking on another journey – another half marathon! I am joining Team Push to Walk in the Long Branch Half Marathon on Sunday, April 26, 2015. Join me on “Templeton’s Team – Push to Run” and help me raise awareness and funds for Push to Walk!

I will be running each of the 13.1 miles for someone with a spinal cord injury, brain injury or MS. If you would like to join my team in either person or spirit, and help even more people, please let me know! As soon as I have my site up to organize everything online, I will put out the info.

WHO’S IN????

Cynthia

Happy Wednesday!

I am SO happy to tell you that I have FINALLY completed all of the topics on my list to share with you in our Family Corner section of our website. While this information has been 10 years in the making, I do hope it is relevant and helpful to anyone going through the experience of sustaining a spinal cord injury – whether it is the person themselves, friends, family, loved ones, etc. Some of these topics required me to think back and re-live certain situations I would rather forget. Others enabled me to review what we had been through and try to provide others with information and knowledge. Most of them brought on powerful emotions which are usually just beneath the surface of my (hopefully) cool, calm and collected self. Many people I have met on this journey have told me how helpful my writings have been to them. Together with the emails in the “One Family’s Personal Story” section , I hope I have provided a glimpse into our lives that lets you know you are not alone. There are others that understand; there are others struggling with the same kind of challenges. One Mom told me that when she reached the end of my emails, she was hoping there was more. When she had read them all, she went back to the beginning and read them again. Re-reading them later, as she was dealing with changes in her daughter’s situation, she gleaned different things from them than the first time around.

While I generally find writing of this sort to be a healing process and a healthy outlet, it can also be emotionally draining. It’s not easy to re-live all the details of the early days, weeks and months. But in doing so, I hope I can help others, and that is a reward greater than the task. If I can help you with anything related to spinal cord injury that you or a loved one is going through, please email me at ctempleton@pushtowalknj.org. It’s all about helping one another, and paying it forward.

Cynthia

I’ve just posted a new topic on Push to Walk’s Family Corner section of our website (click here) that talks about resuming activities and starting new ones after a spinal cord injury. Now that it’s been 10 years since Darren’s injury, he has tried a lot of different things. Some sports and activities had to be modified from how he did them prior to his injury; others were brand new to him. He’s liked some – skiing and wheelchair rugby, for example; and not others (at least not so much) – tennis for one. But he tries new and different things, and that is the important part.

I know I tend to stay in my “comfort zone” when it comes to physical activities and challenges. Setting a goal of completing half and full marathons was difficult on many levels, but not what you would call a risk. At least my feet were touching the ground! Leaving that comfort zone to try new things can be scary. Trying adaptive sports that require modified equipment, helpers, lots of extra time and patience is not always easy – either physically or mentally. But those that do try sometimes find a new outlet for energy, competitiveness, camaraderie and socialization.

I hope you’ll read my website section and maybe you’ll want to try something new or encourage a loved one to do something new – whether it’s sports, art, yoga, or skydiving! Whatever you do, have fun out there!

Cynthia

Kunming China July 2014

Darren & I spent 5 days recently at the Kunming Tongren Hospital in Kunming, China to check out their “Walking Program.” The idea was to see what the program is all about, and meet the Doctors and other people participating in the program. Darren is between jobs at the moment (his own choice) and wants to dedicate a period of time to intensive exercise. After researching this option and speaking to Dr. Wise Young, he thought this was a viable idea for concentrating on rehab and exercise.

Dr. Young put us in touch with the Hospital and Emma, their English speaking coordinator (thank goodness for Emma’s assistance!) helped us make arrangements. From arranging to stay at the hospital for the week, getting transportation to and from the airport, providing documents for our Visas and more, Emma was a great help!

With great anticipation and months of planning, we left the US on Friday, July 25. With a slight delay in Beijing and arriving to find they have no transfer or aisle chair in the Kunming airport (ugh), and then a very interesting ambulance ride to the hospital, we arrived late on Saturday night. One of the other patient’s father, Eric, was anxious to meet us, and welcomed us to Kunming! Eric was able to give us a lot of helpful information that evening, and it was great to know someone (especially someone who spoke English!) right away.

While I have many stories and experiences to share about our 5 days in Kunming, I will stick to the Walking Program itself for this blogpost. I’ll write more in future posts, I promise!

Patients in the program go to the gym for 6 hours each day. It reminded me of traditional physical therapy here in the states, with therapists working with multiple patients at one time. I couldn’t really figure out a “schedule” of who did what and when, and with what trainer/therapist, but it seemed to flow rather seamlessly. The term “organized chaos” comes to mind, but it was not chaotic in any sense. Perhaps there was a plan that I didn’t know of. But no one seemed to know, or really mind, for that matter.  On their own, people were doing OT type of hand exercises for fine motor skills using pegs and boards, would use a Vitaglide machine or ride one of the MotoMed bikes. Mat exercises were sometimes done independently, or with an assistant, therapist or family member/caregiver. I also observed many patients receiving acupuncture throughout the day.

There were also people walking with the high walkers pictured here.

Kunming Tongren Hospital

Kunming Tongren Hospital

For some patients, this is the most labor intensive exercise, although there were some people walking on their own with just a family member following behind with the wheelchair. These independent walkers did a lot more walking than those needing multiple helpers.

The gym was set up in a U shaped design, overlooking the floor below and with ample windows and natural light. The walking area was very wide and had a smooth linoleum type floor. The walkers are very basic and a variety of hand grips, leg straps and knee braces are used. The actual amount of walking that a person does during the day varies, but seemed to be about 2 hours total, at the most, for anyone needing assistance. That was broken up into multiple sessions.

Granted, it is very labor intensive and demanding on the staff members to assist with walking the way they perform it. But we really thought more walking was taking place each day. According to some of the patients we met, it seems like more walking took place previously, but not lately due to decreased staffing. This was disappointing to us, as Darren was really looking for an intense walking program.

Our week in Kunming was enjoyable and informative. We were really glad we went to see for ourselves what the program actually is. We met some incredibly smart, friendly and entertaining people, which made the week fun. Thanks to David and Eric Wishart for providing us with delicious meals and entertainment during our visit! In summary, Darren feels he can set up a program at Push to Walk that gives him the benefits he is looking for. I will write more on that in the future, as well as some other stories and experiences from our trip. Stay tuned for details!

Push to Walk’s 3rd Annual Summer Boot Camp is NEXT WEEK! Events start Sunday, July 13 – Saturday, July 19. Come and join the fun!

Please check out the calendar of events HERE.

We offer a variety of events, vendors, products, education, information and FUN for everyone!

The idea behind Summer Boot Camp is to bring current clients, prospective clients, friends, family and YOU, the general public, together!

Some events are held on site at Push to Walk, 6 North Corporate Drive, Riverdale, NJ and some are at other nearby locations. All the details are listed on the calendar linked above.

This is a great way for our clients to meet one another while participating in fun, sporting and social events, to learn from each other, to learn about new products and services and to meet Push to Walk friends and donors. Please join us for our Opening Event, an Ice Cream Social on Sunday, July 13 at 4 pm with Guest Speaker Dan Monzo, Team USA Paralympic Snowboarder. Other activities include seated yoga, adaptive tennis and trivia night. We will attend Dr. Wise Young’s Open House at Rutgers on Thursday, July 17, as well as host our own Open Houses for visitors and vendors on Tuesday and Thursday.

This is a great way to see Push to Walk in action, and HAVE SOME FUN!

Please register for events by calling 862-200-5848 or emailing Stephanie at slajam@pushtowalknj.org.

Thanks, and hope to see you next week!

Cynthia

Hello Everyone and Happy Monday!

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend AND remembered exactly what we celebrate on July 4th. If not for the brave heroes who often gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, I might not be sitting here today. I might not be doing the work I am doing, writing what I want to write, and enjoying the countless freedoms we enjoy every day of our lives. While originally designated to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, I think it’s also an annual celebration of being a free country.

Our Armed Forces continue to make sacrifices each and every day to fight for those freedoms, leaving behind parents, spouses and children – and too many never return. I am thankful to all those I know who have served our Country, and the many more I have not nor ever will meet……..I hope the celebrations we all enjoyed at least show some measure of respect for the true heroes who have given us freedom and continue to fight each and every day. THANK YOU for your service and sacrifices for all of us.

Fighting for Freedom

Fighting for Freedom

As I think about soldiers and veterans who have suffered catastrophic injuries such as spinal cord injuries and brain injuries, I only hope that Push to Walk can be of some service to them in return. Trying to put together a program for Veterans and find funding for the people who have served our country is a priority for us, and yet we can’t seem to put the right pieces of the puzzle together yet. Be assured we are working on this idea, as we know so many returning soldiers need the specialized program we provide, and we want to be able to offer it to them. If you have any ideas on individuals or organizations who might want to partner with Push to Walk in this effort, please let me know.

For the 364 days in between July 4th holidays, let’s not forget the brave men and women who represent the true meaning behind the holiday.

Cynthia

On Wednesday, May 7, I attended this Symposium on Current Advances in Spinal Cord Injury Research held at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (formerly UMDNJ) in Newark. I was joined by Push to Walk’s Program Director, Tommy Sutor, another trainer (Isaak) and a client. We also saw Steven, a member of Push to Walk’s Medical Professionals Network. I was proud that Push to Walk was well represented at a conference of this stature.

The program for the day included Robert Heary, Brian Strom, David Lowell, Charles Tator, Susan Harkema, and Philip Popovich. After a networking type lunch, the afternoon speakers were W. Dalton Dietrick, Brian Kwon and V. Reggie Edgerton. (I have chosen not to include all of their degrees and titles, because this paragraph would have looked like alphabet soup! Suffice it to say that all of these speakers are at the top of their fields and are very well educated and experienced!)

Admittedly, most of the science presented is over my head, similar to other research and scientific symposiums I attend, but I do appreciate all the different efforts that these scientists and their teams are working on. Bringing research from “the bench to the bedside and back again” is a slow, time consuming tedious process, but so many people are dedicating their lives and professions to spinal cord injury research that I continue to be hopeful that soon enough, one or more will actually become a reality in “curing” spinal cord injury.

From the Miami Project’s hypothermia and Schwann cell studies, to Susan Harkema’s extraordinary work with epidural stimulation, much is happening in the field. During the lunch break,  our Push to Walk trainer Isaak, made one very telling statement: everything that was presented (and I do mean everything) had ONE common denominator: EXERCISE! It was true! All of the speakers and presenters spoke about the importance of exercise, movement, activity based training and rehabilitation. While not many of the clinical trials and tests (although successful to some extent in animals) have actual and tested results, everyone spoke of the need to exercise.

This reinforced our work at Push to Walk that we do every single day. Getting people out of their wheelchairs, helping them to strengthen themselves and seeing what their bodies CAN do is our main focus in every single workout. Movement, movement and more movement – all with a plan, of course! Every day we see people reaching their goals, performing new movements and becoming more independent. While the science progresses along the path of approvals, tests and evaluations, we plug away every day to help people keep their bodies strong and healthy – ready for the cure when science DOES bring us something to help all of those with spinal cord injuries.

May God bless the scientists, their minds, hearts and hands as they do this VERY important work!

P.S. Don’t forget to vote for Push to Walk to win a $25,000 grant to help Veterans and provide workouts! Vote Here!

Thanks, and have a good weekend! Cynthia

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