Walk It Off Clients Participate in 2015 Parapan Am & Pan Am Activities

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Kevin Mills
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With the beginning of fall we get ready for a new season and reflect on the summer we just had. One of the highlights of this past summer must be the excitement from Toronto hosting the 2015 Parapan Am and Pan Am Games. The Parapan Am games were a great stage to demonstrate the abilities and talents of paraplegic and quadriplegic athletes from around the world. The Parapan Am games are a fantastic example of how different impairments, skill sets and competencies can be the winning combination for podium-placing performance. I think it’s fair to say that seeing athletes of all different abilities competing in many different sports caused a bit of “panamania” here at Walk It Off. From Canada placing second in overall medal count and our very own Anita Kaiser in the PanAm torch relay to Kevin Mills being asked to participate in the Parapan Am torch relay and complete a handcycling demonstration at McMaster University, it’s hard to not get excited about it!

The purpose of this blog is to bring home the message that no matter what your ability level, paraplegic, quadriplegic, or other, there are options for you to get moving! If you find yourself drawn to independent sports, such as handcycling or archery, or team sports, such as sledge hockey or rugby, there are facilities and organizations to make your participation possible. At Walk It Off, we believe that engaging in physical activity is great for mental, physical and emotional well-being; a healthy body leads to a healthy mind and a healthy life.

Now we appreciate that not everyone will be looking to jump right into Parapan Am and Paralympic level competition but there are many other facilities and organizations that will help get you started at a beginner or entry-level. Some resources you may want to check out are:

There are many more local facilities and organizations you can find by searching keywords such as “adapted” or “modified” and the sport of your choice and location. For example, the Newmarket Shredders sledge hockey organization or the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling club. Another terrific guide to sport programs available to you is on the ParaSport Ontario Club Directory.

At Walk It Off, many of our clients participate in sports and recreational activities outside of the clinic. Walk It Off clients practice recreational sports, such as sit-skiing and horseback riding, and some of our clients compete on provincial and national teams in sports such as curling and sledge hockey. No matter what your competition level, leisure, recreational or competitive, we are able to design work out sessions tailored to your sport or activity to help you excel in whichever physical activity you like!

What activities do you enjoy participating in? We’d love your feedback and your questions! You can connect with us by email or telephone or leave a comment right here on the site. Check out our Facebook and Twitter pages and our YouTube Channel too and join in the conversation!

Until next time,


ICARE – Intelligently Controlled Assistive Rehabilitation Elliptical

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If you have been to or talked to anyone at Walk It Off in the past few months, you have probably heard about a new machine we are trying to purchase called the Madonna ICARE. But what is it? An Apple product sponsored by the ‘Like A Virgin’ singer? The Madonna ICARE actually stands for: Intelligently Controlled Assistive Rehabilitation Elliptical.

This piece of equipment differs from a typical gym elliptical machine by allowing individuals with varying disabilities the opportunity to stand and take strides safely. A harness is used to support the individual while increasing or decreasing the amount of weight that goes into the feet. The ICARE offers the option to exercise with different degrees of motor assistance. The ICARE can be used as a typical elliptical or set to move an individuals legs when the motor senses muscle fatigue. It can also be set in automatic mode for those with complete paralysis. Continue reading

Walk it Off Spinal Cord Recovery Centre Welcomes New Intern

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Hi! I’m Natalie. I am completing an internship for the summer as the new SCI Facility Assistant here at Walk It Off Spinal Cord Recovery and Wellness Centre (WIO). My placement requirements are to help the SCI Recovery Trainers during sessions with the clients and assist with administrative duties.

I was born in Aurora and lived there until I was five years old when my family moved to New Hampshire, United States. I spent 10 years in New Hampshire growing up in the middle of the woods but still traveling back to Canada multiple times a year to visit my family. Then my family moved to Shanghai, China where I went to high school at an international school. In China I learned a lot about Asian culture, how to speak Mandarin, and traveled to four Southeast Asian countries plus Australia! Continue reading

FUN, FUN, FUNdraisers for Spinal Cord Recovery at Walk It Off

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Walk It Off is delighted to announce that over the upcoming months we will be hosting multiple fundraisers. As a not-for-profit organization, we depend on the generous support we receive from the community, groups and individuals during these fundraising events. Donations and funds raised go directly into subsidizing treatment cost for our members dealing with spinal cord injuries as well as into purchasing new equipment that is vital to our members’ recovery process. These generous donations are the reason we are able to continually improve our services and assist our clients on their path to recovery and wellness. Continue reading

Wheelchairs and Handcycle Racing – 7 Excellent Races

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Hello Everyone.  My name is Kevin Mills and I am the Supreme Chancellor :-) at Walk It Off Spinal Cord Recovery and Wellness Centre. I thought it might be helpful to share with you 7 excellent races for those athletic individuals out there who are currently in wheelchairs. In February of 2009 I myself sustained a spinal cord injury when a wave drove me head-first into the sand while swimming in the ocean in Cuba.  I am a C 5/6 AIS A (quadriplegic).  I was a competitive middle distance runner in high school and I completed my first half marathon in October of 2008, a few months prior to my injury. Continue reading

Preventing Illness in those with Spinal Cord Injuries

preventing illness in spinal cord injury patientsDiet and nutrition play a large role in our body’s everyday functions and overall well being. We have heard sayings such as “healthy body, healthy mind” or “you are what you eat”. As cliché as those sayings may be, there is no denying the truth behind them. As is true with everyone, proper nutrition plays a large part in reducing the occurrence of health concerns or preventing illness particularly for those living with spinal cord injuries (SCI) and more specifically, for those that are commonly related to the injury.

Diet and Prevention of UTI’s

One of the most common secondary health concerns regarding clients/patients with spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are urinary tract infections (UTI’s). SCI clients/patients experience a heightened risk of developing UTI’s from the frequent need to perform intermittent catheterization to empty their bladders on a daily basis. The average incidence rate of UTI’s is 10.3 per 1000 catheterizations. Continue reading

The New Lift Walker for SCIs – Here at Walk it Off

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Here at the Walk It Off Spinal Cord Recovery and Wellness Centre, we are always looking for new and exciting ways to challenge our clients. We have recently taken the plunge and invested in a number of new assistive devices and exercise equipment to get those of you with SCIs moving. Most notably, the New Liftwalker  is a revolutionary piece of equipment designed to get people in wheelchairs up on their feet and walking. The most exciting feature of this device is its safe and convenient ability to lift individuals directly from their wheelchair – no transfers required.

Like us, Charlie Guitierrez, the designer of the New Liftwalker, believes that individuals in wheelchairs might be able to learn to stand, take steps, or perhaps walk again if they are provided with the appropriate tools to do so. This device will provide another alternative to our already available standing options, allowing clients to weight bear and retrain motor pathways with the hopes of one day being able to walk again. Continue reading

Celebrating 3 Years at Walk It Off Spinal Cord Recovery Wellness Centre!

27139389_sa copyOn Wednesday January 21, 2015, Walk It Off Spinal Cord Wellness Centre will be celebrating 3 years of operation, making a difference in the lives of people who have suffered a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI). To showcase our achievements, we cordially invite you to attend our Open House on Wednesday, January 21st, 2015. Drop in from 12:00pm-5:00pm.

We would not be where we are today without the hard work and generosity of our many supporters. There are so many who have made Walk It Off what it is today; by volunteering their time, participating in our many fundraisers and many who have supported us with monetary donations. Our clients and their families make Walk It Off a unique environment. There is so much positivity and support which we see on a daily basis. We cannot forget the amazing group of SCI Recovery Trainers who have made the program such a success and made a difference in our clients’ recovery process. Continue reading

Olfactory Ensheathing Cells and Spinal Cord Recovery

Darek Fidyka
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In recent months, there has been a breakthrough in spinal cord injury recovery. Research has been looking into the possibility of injecting cells from other areas of the body into the site of injury to see if they can help repair and regenerate the injured cells of the Spinal Cord. Focus had been placed on stem cells for their ability to adapt and change into the cells of their surrounding environment. However, recently the focus has shifted to olfactory ensheathing cells (OEC). Continue reading

December Donations Discount Member Training/Therapy Fees at WIO

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The holiday season is one for caring, sharing, and being with loved ones. For those of you struggling to find the perfect gift this holiday season, consider giving back and donate to Walk It Off Spinal Cord Recovery and Wellness Centre. For the month of December, all donations received will go directly towards discounting members’ training and therapy fees. 

Throughout the rest of the year, we put all of the donations received right back into the facility to help purchase new equipment to assist in Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) recovery. This helps to subsidize the costs for individuals with spinal cord injuries who participate in SCI Recovery Training and Physiotherapy here. Continue reading