Frequently Asked Questions

What does increasing the level of mobility below the injury mean?

94% of FSWC’s clients regain some form of function below their level of injury. These improvements range from improving the motor function of abdominal and postural muscles that assist with sitting stability to voluntary contraction of large muscle groups in the legs and everything in between. The amount of improvement that you see will depend on several variables such as the level and severity of your injury, you current fitness level, and the amount of time that you spend working on your functional goals.

What’s the difference between First Steps and Traditional or Conventional Rehab?

FSWC’s most radical characteristic is the quantity of therapy hours. We operate under the assumption that in order for adaptation to occur on the scale that we are looking to achieve our clients need to train like Olympic level athletes. The amount of time you will spend with one or more therapists at FSWC will be one of the largest differences you will notice. Just as important is the methods we use to target below the level of injury. Since our goal is to restore or create function most of your time at FSWC will be spent working below your level of injury.

How does First Steps rehabilitation work?

We use specially designed exercise programs to stimulate the body below the level of injury. As well, we have specialized equipment designed specifically for people with Spinal Cord Injuries and applied by therapists with a significant amount of experience working with SCI. Scientific research confirms that nerves can re-grow but only if they are stimulated. The extent of re-growth is variable but in 94% of cases at First Steps we have improved function and mobility below the level of injury.

What is neuroplasticity?

Research has shown that the nervous system can regain function even after a severe injury. This is referred to as neuroplasticity and simply means that the central nervous system is not hard-wired but is able to find a way to rebuild itself to some degree even after severe injuries.

Can you give me an example of increased mobility?

Increased mobility can mean anything from walking again to regaining function in your arms. For example, one of our clients was a complete quadriplegic and has now regained movement in her arms and is able to feed herself without assistance. This is a major improvement in her quality of life.

Are these programs scientifically validated?

Yes, the underlying concept is that the body will find a way to adapt if it is placed under the appropriate stress. A growing body of scientific evidence points to the exact processes involved. While the physiological mechanisms are still being studied, the results are apparent – if you stimulate the body below the level of injury with exercise, the body will adapt and a level of function will be regained. If not, the muscles and the nerves atrophy and after a period of time it is virtually impossible to make any progress.

How long does it take to see improvement?

This depends on the severity of the injury, the age of the person injured, how motivated the client is and other factors. However, most research is indicating that the first six months following an injury is when a majority of changes occur so the time from injury to therapy is a factor as well. Typically significant improvements will be seen sometime near the end of the third month of therapy assuming that attendance is somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 hours/week.

Do you have references?

Yes we do – please contact us about speaking to people who are in our program or who have gone through our program or check our online videos.

How do I know how much progress I’ll make?

Unfortunately, there is no real way of telling. However, we do know that the sooner the program is started, the younger you are, the more work you put into it and how motivated you are to do the exercises both at our facility and at home, the more progress you will see.

Do I have to be at one of your facilities?

The only real way to participate in our program is to be at one of our facilities. How often you come into the facility and how much work you put in will all contribute to how much progress you ultimately make. We custom-design programs tailored to your specific situation so there are options available for those unable to travel.