Our Blog

Summer/Diving Safety

June is an exciting month for most. It marks the beginning of summer, vacations, and beautiful weather. For some of our clients however, the summer months mark the anniversary of their injury sustained from a diving or water-related accident.

Entering the sunny months of summer, Push to Walk would like to remind everyone of summer safety and precautions to take so you can have a safe and fun summer season!

1. The American Red Cross recommends a minimum of 10 feet of water depth for headfirst dives including dives from pool decks.
2. No above-ground pools are safe for diving.
3. Don’t dive into water where visibility is not clear. Murky water could be hiding underwater rocks, tree trunks, or other obstructions. In the ocean, changing tides and waves cause sands to shift and create sandbars.
4. Do not use alcohol before or during diving—or any other water sports. Alcohol influences balance, coordination, and judgment.
5. Always teach children about water safety and provide supervision.
6. Do not ignore “No Diving” signs, they are there for a reason.
7. When in doubt, always enter feet first.

Some Statistics:
*Diving into pools and lakes causes 26,000 orthopedic injuries each year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Approximately 800 of those injuries result in paralysis.
*Diving is the fourth leading cause of spinal cord injury among males and the fifth leading cause among females.
*As many as one of every 10 injuries to the cervical spinal cord is caused by a diving accident. The victims are predominantly male.

Interested in learning some of our client’s personal stories? Visit our client bio page.


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.

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