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Xcite(ing) New Equipment at Push to Walk

After much anticipation, Push to Walk (PTW) welcomed the Restorative Therapies (RTI) Xcite Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Clinical Station to its list of state-of-the-art equipment. The arrival of the Xcite adds to PTW’s collection of RTI devices with its already existing RT300 FES Bike, RT200 FES Recumbent Elliptical, and RT600 Step and Stand with fully integrated FES. FES is therapeutically very beneficial because individual muscles are physically contracting while completing a movement. This helps retrain the nervous system while also leading to improved muscle mass, bone density, blood circulation, and skin integrity thus improving the quality of workouts.

Unique to RTI’s other devices, the Xcite can target muscles of the upper body (shoulder, arm, forearm) in the proper sequential manner to complete functional tasks. Reteaching muscles tasks such as those to help increase independence such as grasping a cup off of a table, gripping a pen, or brushing your teeth. Previous devices do not have the ability to provide electrical stimulation in such a precise way, focusing on fine motor skills. In a survey of individuals with spinal cord injuries published in the American Journal of Applied Psychology, those with quadriplegia prioritized regaining arm/hand function as the number one priority ahead of bowel/bladder improvement, walking, pain reduction, autonomic dysreflexia reduction, and sexual function. The addition of the Xcite to workouts, gives PTW the best chance to help encourage such improvements.

On Tuesday, May 7th Push to Walk cleared its regular schedule to have RTI Clinical Representative, Gabriella Stiefbold, OTR, ATP hold an all-day training for staff to learn about the device and prepare to safely use in future workouts. Training included overview of the Xcite system as well as hands-on demonstrations with a few of PTW’s current clients.

For more information about the Xcite, visit RTI’s website. Interested in incorporating FES into your workouts? Speak with your trainer to determine if it’s an option for you. Not currently a PTW client and want to learn more? Contact Kate Wolfe at kwolfe@pushtowalknj.org to schedule a tour and start the process of becoming a PTW client.

Push to Walk Collaborates with Local Universities

Push to Walk (PTW) has worked collaboratively with several area colleges and universities in creating and maintaining an internship program here at PTW’s specialized gym. These schools include William Paterson University, Ramapo College, Montclair State University, and TCNJ. Students from different majors have participated in the program including students majoring in Exercise Science, Communications, Marketing, Journalism, and Social Work.

The interns that are assigned to PTW gain valuable experience while earning college credit. PTW stands apart from other internships because the trainers and the staff work exclusively with individuals within the paralysis community. The interns learn firsthand about workouts, equipment, and current research in the field. Many of PTW’s current staff began their professional journey as interns and find it difficult to leave the clients and the organization behind after their internship hours are completed.

PTW’s Director of Operations, Stephanie Lajam, began as an intern in the summer of 2009. Since then, she has received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees while consistently remaining part of the PTW team. The relationships she has built with the clients, their families, the staff, and other networks will be everlasting.

My story is similar. My name is Amanda and I was one of the interns who found it difficult to leave after my hours were completed. It only took a few days to feel like I was part of the team. I am currently the Development Assistant for Push to Walk, and a junior at Ramapo College of New Jersey. I started as an intern in September of 2018 like many of the staff here at PTW. As an intern on the administrative staff, I was able to assist with grant writing, development tasks, and fund raising. I also worked along-side both the administrative and training staff.

At PTW the idea of community and building relationships is emphasized not only with clients, but the staff as well. Thanks to the experience and family-like atmosphere I didn’t even hesitate to answer when asked to work here part-time in January of 2019. Every action and task completed at PTW is to benefit the clients and I knew I wanted to continue to be part of that. I have since learned a lot about how a non-profit organization works, and how essential PTW is to the paralysis community. Interning, and now working here gave me the opportunity to be part of something bigger than myself; something so empowering it can change lives.

For more information on how to become an intern at PTW or to simply volunteer, please contact Stephanie Lajam at slajam@pushtowalknj.org.

NJ Devils Kenny Agostino Expresses Support for Paralysis Community and PTW

Put a few athletes in a room and they are likely to make a connection, even if one of them plays for the National Hockey League and the other is a former high school athlete who has been paralyzed for over a dozen years. This is what happened Wednesday when New Jersey Devils forward Kenny Agostino met Darren Templeton, one of the founders of Push to Walk (PTW), a non-profit organization that helps those with paralysis stay physically fit.

Darren sustained a C5 spinal cord injury after diving into shallow water at the New Jersey Shore in July 2004. He was 18 years old at the time and had played on his high school ice hockey team. The accident left him paralyzed from the chest down. Upon completing traditional rehabilitation therapy, Darren looked for a way to gain strength and improve his overall fitness. Traditional gyms in northern New Jersey could not accommodate his needs. As a result, he and his mother, Cynthia Templeton, founded PTW in 2007.

This specially-equipped wheelchair accessible gym has trainers who are certified in methods that have shown to work with people who have spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injuries, and other neurological mobility impairments.

Agostino, a New Jersey native who began playing for the Devils in March, visited the gym, located in Oakland, after learning that a former high school ice hockey player – and a devoted Devils’ fan – was one of the founders. His visit was eye-opening.

“The people who work out at Push to Walk are truly inspiring. They are among the most resilient individuals I have ever met. It’s clear that PTW is making a difference in their lives,” emphasizes Agostino, who supports the organization’s mission of helping individuals with spinal cord injuries and other forms of paralysis optimize their quality of life.

If you know of anyone who is struggling with mobility issues as a result of a spinal cord injury, stroke, MS, or other neurological condition, PTW can be a valuable resource. It’s not only a place where these individuals build their physical strength, but also a place where they build lifelong friendships. As a PTW Board member for the past five years, I have had the privilege of witnessing this firsthand. For more information, go to www.pushtowalknj.org or call (201) 644-7567.

Helene Kennedy
PTW Board Member

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