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.

This year we have added many new pieces of equipment to enhance our program and have brought on new staff to increase the amount of hours we can provide in order to service more individuals.

Please take some time to stop in, take a look around and help us celebrate!

As always we welcome your feedback. You can connect with us via email or telephone or leave a comment right here on the site.  Don’t forget to ‘Like’ our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and check out our YouTube channel too. See all the great things we’re doing and join in the conversation!

We look forward to seeing you at the Centre on Wednesday!


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).

The olfactory receptors, which are responsible for bringing the scent stimulus into the olfactory bulb of the brain, only have a lifetime of about 6-8 weeks. This is where the olfactory ensheathing cells come into play. When the olfactory receptors die, the debris must be removed and they must be replaced; this is the job of the olfactory ensheathing cells. A way to think of it is the receptors are hydro-electric lines carrying electricity to a destination; in this case it would be bringing the scent stimulus to the olfactory bulb. The olfactory ensheathing cells act as the electrical repair technicians for when the lines fall over or need repairing, cleaning up the damaged line and repairing it with new lines; for this reason, the olfactory ensheathing cells are a strong candidate for this specific transplant. The olfactory ensheathing cells also encourage nerve growth in their environment therefore promoting regeneration of the spinal cord when injected at the injury site. Another reason the olfactory ensheathing cells are ideal for this procedure is they can be acquired from within the individual. Being able to use the patient’s cells from within their own body eliminates the risk of the body rejecting the transplanted cells.

In recent spinal cord recovery research, the case of Darek Fidyka has gained a lot of attention. In 2010, Fidyka was stabbed resulting in an 8 mm gap in the spinal cord and a T9, complete spinal cord injury. After the incident, Fidyka was left paralyzed from the chest down with no motor control or sensation below his level of injury. In 2012, Fidyka underwent an olfactory ensheathing cell transplant that would change his life. Before the procedure could occur, Fidyka’s olfactory bulb had to be removed and the olfactory ensheathing cells had to be cultured in a very specific manner (3). Once the cells had been cultured and were ready to be transplanted, the scar tissue surrounding the lesion on Fidyka’s spinal cord was removed and the 8 mm gap was bridged using a sensory nerve from the ankle. The olfactory ensheathing cells were then injected at the top and bottom of the graft site. Fidyka underwent many micro-injections of the olfactory ensheathing cells.

Six months post-surgery, with intensive physiotherapy and neurorehabilitation, Fidyka was beginning to notice gains in muscle mass and was able to tentatively take steps with the use of leg braces, parallel bars and a physiotherapist. Fidyka also recovered improved trunk stability, some voluntary movement in his lower extremities and partial recovery of superficial and deep sensation below his injury level. Diagnostic imaging suggests that with the cell transplant, the 8 mm gap in Fidyka’s spinal cord has repaired and regenerated (4). Two years post-surgery, Fidyka is able to take independent steps using an assistive device. However, scientists and doctors warn that although this case with Fidyka has presented a success and a gain in the area of spinal cord recovery research, there will need to be more clinical trials before announcing a treatment for spinal cord injury.

For more information, feel free to check out the below links and cited article!
1. Paralyzed dogs walk again
2. UCL Institute of Neurology – Spinal Repair
3. Barnett, S.C. & Higginson, J.R. (2011). The culture of olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) – a distinct glial type. Experimental Neurology, (229), 2-9.

Here at Walk It Off, we are very excited about this new research and the possibilities it brings to individuals living with spinal cord injuries. We are hopeful that Fidyka’s success story will be the spark needed to ignite more research on spinal cord injury recovery and rehabilitation. We will be sure to keep you updated on the latest research and breakthroughs surrounding olfactory ensheathing cells as well as other research that may arise, for those of you who are considering this method of treatment. Walk It Off is looking forward to working with new research, such as OEC transplants, and providing the intensive physical therapy portion required for spinal cord rehabilitation.

We welcome your feedback. You can connect with us via email or telephone or leave a comment right here on the site.

Until next time,

Rebecca (SCI Recovery Trainer)



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

FUNDRAISERS, FUNDRAISERS, FUNDRAISERS!! – Benefiting Walk it Off this 2014

walk it off recovery fundraisingIt’s that time of year when we ask everyone to help us raise funds for our program here at Walk it Off Recovery. We are honoured to announce 3 fundraisers – all benefiting WIO this 2014 holiday season. Please mark your calendars for…

2014 Scarf Auction pic for fb1. 5th Annual Walk It Off Scarf Auction

As cooler weather approaches, so does the 5th Annual Walk It Off Scarf Auction Fundraiser – November 22-30, 2014! To ease into the season changes, think about adding a handmade goodie to your wardrobe to keep you or a loved one warm through the fall and winter. It’s also a great gift idea for the Holiday Season!

All of the proceeds from the auction go directly towards purchasing new equipment for Walk It Off. Continue reading

‘Total Gym’ Equipment for Spinal Cord Injury Clients at WIO

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The Total Gym (TG) is a piece of equipment recognized throughout the fitness community for bodyweight training, functional training, conditioning, and rehabilitation therapy. We are fortunate to have a TG at the Walk It Off facility that was generously donated by the DeHaas Family of Aurora. As you can see in the picture (left), we have one of our Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) clients, Kevin (C5/6 Complete), lying on an angled sled that can slide up and down on a guide rail as the client performs squats. The sled can also be locked in a stationary position. The Total Gym (TG) offers many benefits to a Spinal Cord Injury client because it is adjustable to suit the individual’s physical abilities, needs and exercise goals no matter the level of paralysis. Completing exercises on the TG allows the client to perform movements they would not usually be able to complete, in a safe and controlled manner with the assistance of the SCI Recovery Trainer here at Walk it Off when needed.

Please take a moment to watch this video of a client on the TG. Continue reading

New Beginnings Here at Walk it Off Spinal Cord Recovery Centre!

left to right: Matt, Alyssa, Rebecca (click to enlarge)

left to right: Matt, Alyssa, Rebecca (click to enlarge)

There are new beginnings happening here at Walk it Off Spinal Cord Recovery Centre! Three of our trainers are starting new chapters in their lives:

SCI Recovery Trainer/Physiotherapist, Shannon Davidson is hanging out a shingle as she starts her own physiotherapy practice based from her home in Bradford. SCI Recovery Trainer, Talal Chaudhry has been hand picked by Rugby Canada and given the opportunity to attend a Rugby referee development program in British Columbia. We all wish him luck as he gears towards refereeing at a national level. Lastly, SCI Recovery Trainer, Ashley Richardson will be completing a Masters degree in Kinesiology and Health Science at York University this coming year. We are not saying good-bye to Ashley. She will be reducing her hours here at Walk It Off as much of her time will be spent on her scholastics. Help us wish these tremendous individuals farewell and best of luck in their future endeavors. Continue reading

Spinal Cord Recovery Program – Whole Body Vibration Therapy

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As part of our spinal cord recovery program here at Walk It Off, we encourage our clients to get active and out of their chairs during their workout sessions. One of the components of a workout session is getting the clients standing with a trainer.  We are able to offer our clients the option to use vibrational therapy by way of the Vibe Plate during this standing session. Standing offers many health benefits to individuals with spinal cord injuries, some of which include increasing bone mass density, bowel and bladder function. The Vibe Plate uses Whole Body Vibration (WBV) technology, which offers additional health benefits to the individual standing on the equipment. It has been suggested that using the Vibe Plate for 10 minutes, three times a week will result in improved range of motion and flexibility, increased blood circulation and muscle strength, and increased bone density to help fight osteoporosis. Continue reading

Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) for those with Spinal Cord Injury

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Hello there! My name is Talal and I am a trainer at Walk It Off Spinal Cord Recovery and Wellness Centre in Newmarket.  I would like to share information regarding one of the training modalities we use with our spinal cord injury clients called Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES).

After a spinal cord injury, many individuals will have weaker muscles or muscles that can only be activated through external stimulation. We use two techniques to stimulate contraction: Nervous System Activation Technique (NSAT-discussed in our previous blog) and Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS). EMS is a modality that is used by placing electrodes over the skin of a targeted muscle group and then a current is passed through to generate muscle contractions.

Continue reading

Nervous System Activation Technique (NSAT) for Spinal Cord Injuries

NSATHi, I’m Ashley, one of the SCI Recovery Trainers at Walk It Off. We use a variety of equipment and exercise techniques that provide a wide range of health benefits to our Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) clients. One method that makes the Walk It Off experience unique is Nervous System Activation Technique (NSAT).

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2 New Trainers Welcomed to the Walk it Off Team

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Spring marks growth and new beginnings at Walk it Off Spinal Cord Recovery and Wellness Centre as we announce the addition of two new Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Recovery Trainers to our team; Talal Chaudhry and Ashley Richardson.

Talal is a recent graduate of the Kinesiology and Health Science program at Brock University. Talal brings clinical experience working with SCIs. As part of his studies, he worked in the Power Cord Exercise Program lab at the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Wellbeing. The goal of the Power Cord program is to promote healthy living through exercise for those living with SCIs. Talal is a devoted rugby fan who served as an Athletic Trainer for the Brock Badgers rugby team. In his spare time, he acts as a referee for the Ontario Rugby Union.

Continue reading