Posts Tagged ‘strength training’

Working together with Burke Rehab Hospital, their staff and clients has been an amazing experience. From their top SCI doc, Dr. Stampas, to their PT’s, OT’s and Recreation Therapists, everyone is committed to seeing their patients make progress in their physical capabilities, emotional well-being and social interactions. One recent event that Push to Walk participated in was one of the hand cycle clinics that Burke hosted in conjunction with Helen Hayes Hospital , and it was great!

A variety of equipment vendors were there and had bikes for people to try, lots of volunteers to help and great food. At Push to Walk, we love getting clients to consider hand cycling as a complement to our exercise program, and have brought several newcomers into the sport. With so many choices of bikes, it is important to try a few different styles to see what is more comfortable and easy for you to use. We can also tailor your workouts to include specific exercises that will help you become stronger and make cycling more enjoyable.

Using a hand cycle can not only be a great way to exercise, but a fun and social activity with friends and family, too. While you may not think October is the time to think about an outdoor sport, you may want to start looking into different models, talk with people who ride, and start considering your options for the spring. There are several events that would be great to train for, especially Team Push to Walk’s participation in the NJ Marathon/Half Marathon on May 5, 2013, and the annual Richard West 5 Mile ride on Long Beach Island in June.

We’d be happy to provide you with information on hand cycles and the events mentioned above – please e-mail me at ctempleton@pushtowalknj.org. We are already signing up team members for the May Marathon, and would love to recruit hand cyclists and more runners, too! All funds raised are used for client scholarships at Push to Walk. We’d love to have you join us!



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Nutrition is an important topic for people with spinal cord injury, as it should be for everyone – with or without a disability. For myself, I try to eat healthy, only eat “bad” foods in moderation, and exercise regularly. Of course, sometimes I’m better at following my own advice than others! I have never had a serious weight problem, and have not experienced the ups and downs of gaining weight, dieting and losing weight. Perhaps if I had, then this post might be a little different.

However, my son Darren is now following The Paleo Diet. I am not a big fan of eliminating any food group entirely, so this doesn’t seem like it would be the diet I would choose, but I give him credit for trying to lose some weight, feel more healthy and get stronger to bike for 26.2 miles in the upcoming NJ Marathon. (Go Darren!)

According to one website I found, the basics of the Paleo Diet are to:

  • Eat full portions of lean meats and seafood
  • Enjoy fruits and vegetables, mushrooms, herbs and sweets like honey
  • Remove the modern grains and dairy that can be difficult to digest
  • Get rid of processed foods, alcohols, and sugars!
  • Get energy from natural, unprocessed foods – not dangerous diet pills or methods!

Except for the missing carbs, which I feel are of benefit to most people, and dairy products, which can be disruptive but still eaten in a healthy diet, this all sounds pretty good! I have come to believe that a “healthy lifestyle” represents the most important decision we can make if we want to feel and look our best. There was a report released by the American Dietetic Association in 2010 that outlined “Evidence-Based Nutrition Guidelines” for people with SCI. It is a lengthy report (72 pages) that I have not read entirely, but would be happy to send to you if you had interest. As I skimmed its contents, it seems like common sense to me, as is most of the concept of living a healthy lifestyle. I think we all know fruits and vegetables are better than chips and candy, unprocessed food better than processed. But it is up to us to make the better choices, even though we are bombarded with ads for fast food, snacks and generally unhealthy foods or habits.

By forming Team Push to Walk for the NJ Marathon on May 6, we are showing ourselves and our clients that part of a healthy lifestyle is regular exercise. We are helping our clients arrange to have hand cycles, and helping them exercise in a way that will strengthen them and give them endurance to participate in hand cycling for 13.1 or 26.2 miles. We want them to feel good about themselves while reaching a goal that will also make them proud of themselves. Eating right and exercising go hand in hand.

If you have any suggestions that have worked for you in following a more healthy lifestyle, please let us know!


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For those of you who know me, you already know I can go on and on about Push to Walk and all the good our program does for people with spinal cord injuries. After awhile it probably sounds like “blah, blah, blah!” As any good spokesman for a cause they believe in, we can tell great stories, explain what our trainers do, and what our clients accomplish. BUT, when someone sees our gym, talks to the clients and experiences a workout for him or herself, NOW believing happens! This is what it’s all about!

This was the case when I recently had the pleasure of showing our gym to Lou Pallo. Yes, the famous Lou Pallo of the Les Paul Trio. Legendary in his own right, Lou and Les played together many years and for many shows. (www.loupallo.com) Thanks to our friend Vince Genella, another VERY talented guitarist (www.vincegenella.net) who introduced us to Lou, Lou and his current trio have agreed to donate their talents for entertainment at Push to Walk’s upcoming Wine Tasting on June 14th at the Grand Chalet in Wayne, NJ. We are very grateful to both Lou and Vince for taking an interest in Push to Walk and helping us raise money so we can continue to provide specialized exercise workouts to people with spinal cord injuries.

But back to my main topic – seeing someone or something in action, with your very own eyes, is SO powerful! It makes all the difference in the world! You can then understand, or ask questions, give feedback, etc. There is no substitute for seeing and feeling something for yourself. So come and SEE Push to Walk for yourself! We love to have visitors and show off our gym, our trainers, even our clients! Once you see it, you’ll understand why we are so passionate about what we do!


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I always find it amazing to read about technology – what already exists, what is newly developed and what is on the horizon – for people with various disabilities. Of course, I am more interested in products that help people with spinal cord injury and paralysis, but it is mind boggling to follow what some of the leading institutions and researchers are working on.

Several efforts are well underway in producing an “exoskeleton” that will enable people with paralysis to walk. I am anxious to learn more about both eLegs and Re-Walk, and hopefully see them in action with actual people. There is also a group from Duke University heading up the Walk Again Project, which sounds very exciting.

These kinds of technology really tie in well with what we do at Push to Walk, because our goal is to help people regain strength, function and independence. Having core strength is crucial to a person who wants to be upright, either in a standing frame, on their own, or with the use of an exoskeleton. If a person does not have the strength and endurance to be upright, even the best technology is not going to help him/her. We feel that we provide that important piece to the puzzle.

I am grateful to all the brilliant minds who have made this area a focus of their research and work. Thank you to those individuals, companies and universities who are dedicating themselves to this cause! Here are a few links so you can check them out yourselves:

Duke University – http://www.walkagainproject.org/

eLegs – www.eksobionics.com

ReWalk – http://rewalk.us/

If you search on the names, you will find information, photos and videos that are sure to amaze you! If you are someone who has tried any of these devices, please let me know what you think. If you are aware of other technologies (not only walking but assistive technology of any sort) that might be helpful to learn about and pass along, please let me know! At Push to Walk, we are always interested in learning more about new and helpful information!

Thanks! Cynthia

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Five years! Can you believe it? Push to Walk opened its doors for the very first time on January 15, 2007. We had three clients, two part time trainers, and barely 1000 sq ft of space. Most of what filled the gym was equipment we had at home that Darren used.  While he was at Project Walk in California for a week that January, we moved some of the equipment from home to the new Push to Walk location. Some other things he had at the gym at Ramapo College, and we did have a few platform tables built for the new gym. I am very proud to say that with only a $15,000 loan from me and my husband, we opened our doors. According to a three year schedule, that loan was paid off at the end of 2009, and we have sustained ourselves ever since.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many people who have contributed to our success: the many clients who have placed their trust in us; our ever-widening circle of donors who have contributed to us and/or participated in our special events; my awesome staff who take their jobs to heart each and every day; dedicated Board Members who volunteer their time and energy to oversee our operations; many friends who have helped along the way; and other related agencies and organizations that have assisted us in one way or another.  With everyone’s help, we have more than survived these first 5 years – we have thrived!

I expect 2012 to bring more exciting news and events to Push to Walk and the entire spinal cord injury community. With the growing understanding and acceptance of specialized exercise workouts for people with SCI and the planned U.S. clinical trials, there is much to look forward to in the coming year. We can only hope that successful clinical trials would eliminate the need for our gyms in the future, but until then, we are here to help as many people as possible.

As we celebrate this 5th Anniversary, I am now even more keenly aware of the challenges and struggles that people with SCI face every day. I am also aware of the successes, triumphs and goals achieved. I have to thank all those who have shared their stories with me, helping me understand a little of the world they face each and every day. As a parent of a young man with a spinal cord injury (Darren, injured in 2004, now almost 26 years old) , I see one piece of the puzzle. Talking with clients and others I have met with SCI, their parents, children, spouses and siblings, you have all taught me so much. Thank you for sharing the ups and downs of your lives. I hope I can continue to help others as I learn what I can and pass on to others in need.

Thank you for being part of the Push to Walk Family!



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Hi Again!

OK, sometimes I get on my “soap box” about certian topics, and driving is one of them. The next post will be another – standing frames!

Because of my own particular situation of having a son that was 18 at the time of his injury, driving was one of the things he wanted to figure out ASAP. Also, because Darren had been very independent prior to his injury, his personality did not change after the fact. So we had to start thinking about a vehicle and driving as soon as he was able to handle it from a strength standpoint.

Again, this is my own experience, and I know a lot of people with SCI don’t have the financial resources to do what we did. I understand that. We were able to purchase an accessible vehicle, and that made a huge difference. Darren was so anxious to get out and about, and he was so tired of asking for rides here and there, I knew he would do so much more if he could drive on his own.

While a van was not the vehicle of choice for a hip 19 year old, Darren realized it offered the most for his situation. From the beginning to now, there have been a few phases of Darren’s driving:

At first, he drove from his power chair (which he used all of the time) with an easy lock mechanism to lock into place. When he started using his manual wheelchair more often, he actually transferred from his manual chair into the power chair and drove from that. Then we purchased a 6 way power base driver seat, which moves back and forth, up and down and swivels side to side. He transfers into that, and drives from the driver’s seat. He finds it very comfortable, especially for the long drives he takes (more on that in a future blog, possibly!).

All of this points to what driving has afforded Darren – more independence. Of course, I still worry about him driving too late at night, in bad weather conditions, or in areas he’s unfamiliar with. But all parents worry about those things; we just worry more when there are extenuating circumstances like an SCI. I don’t mean to say I don’t.

It all takes SO much time – driving lessons, prescriptions for the correct adaptable equipment, ordering a vehicle, learning to drive it, etc. Sometimes people get so frustrated with the process, that they never take on the challenge of starting to drive. I encourage all of you to seek help in fund raising to help purchase a vehicle, to take the initiative with Vocational Rehab programs, to figure out all that it takes to help someone with an SCI drive again. It is well worth the effort and can provide so much independence and freedom to all those involved.

Let me know if you have any questions and maybe I can provide some insights to help you!  


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Wow, it’s already Friday? I just realized I haven’t blogged all week. Shame on me! The first of the month is always busy with invoices and paying bills, but somehow it seemed even more busy than usual this month. Oh well, no sense fretting over it. Just gotta get back to blogging!

After my 14 mile run last Saturday, this was a fairly easy week. I played tennis as one of my cross training days, managed to squeeze in three strengthening workouts, and rode the bike today. The other days were short runs, on the treadmill, of course, very early in the morning. This Saturday, I’ll be running “only” 8 miles. Yay!

I met with a close friend who is also a personal trainer, and she set me up with two different strengthening workouts. I will alternate between the two, and really need to do at least two sessions per week. Most weeks, I think I can do three sessions, so that will be even better. The more I read about endurance and making it to the finish line, the more I realize I need to be stronger. I didn’t do this in any of my previous events (one full marathon and two half’s), but now I’m three years older than my last marathon. I need all the help I can get! And even with only 30 minutes apiece, I work up a sweat following the program that Cheryl designed for me. I probably should have started this routine earlier in my training, but hopefully “better late than never” will hold true.

I am feeling good about my run tomorrow; looking forward to warmer weather. Forecast is high 40’s to low 50’s and that will be welcomed after so many cold days of running outside. I’ll also be gearing up to send out my sponsorship info, so be on the lookout soon! I have a goal of raising $500 for Push to Walk by running the NJ Marathon on May 1st – I hope you’ll help me help more people with spinal cord injuries!

Enjoy the weekend, and I’ll check in after my run – I promise!


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