What a great summary : )

Cincinnati, Ohio

"The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them." -George Bernard Shaw

That is just what one local woman did. On August 10, 2002 Anne Phipps of Morrow, Ohio sustained a T6 spinal cord injury in an accident that left her paralyzed but not defeated. Unsatisfied after being told to adapt to life in a wheelchair, Anne was determined to explore other rehabilitative options. She joined forces with sibling exercise physiologists, Michele Brock & Matt Ranson. Together, they worked on Anne's recovery goals. A combination of Michele’s medical research background, Matt’s professional training experience and Anne’s incredible progress led to the creation of SCI-Step in Mason. That was seven years ago.

Their small vision was the first private, medical based facility of its kind created specifically for spinal cord injuries. Today, a number of similar facilities exist around the country but most were created by non-profit foundations and rely heavily on fund-raising or private patient funding for support. "SCI-Step is unique, one of a kind in comparison to other programs offered for injuries after initial rehab," notes Michele, emphasizing that they are much more.

SCI-Step works closely with doctors, physical therapists and case nurses to develop a plan of care and track on-going progress beyond the first few months. "Our team consists of medical professionals specializing in physiatry, physical therapy, occupational therapy and exercise physiology. This is key when looking at long-term, functional progress and the secondary health issues that are/could be preventable."

Since Anne's injury, the threesome has focused on providing patients with the opportunity to use current researched therapies in the field. Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) and Partial Weight Bearing Treadmill Training (PWBTT) are components that they have used at SCI-Step since the beginning. Both are now considered key factors in documented SCI recovery. Ongoing clinical studies around the country are focusing on these therapies but some patients find they are limited by specific injury criteria.

Anne recalls her life over the past seven years and the speed bumps along the way. “I think back and I can remember not even being able to pick my head up off the mat table without straining. Now I live like I did before my injury; completely independent. Sure, I had to relearn to sit-up, go to the bathroom, take a shower, get dressed and even drive. But I did it, and I look back and I am proud that I never gave up on my recovery even through the toughest of times. Today I can now walk not only indoors, but outdoors pain free for almost an hour straight with just my KAFO’s and a walker.” Amazingly, she does all of this without one hip joint due to a secondary injury from the accident.

“I think one of the main reasons that I was able to survive through all of the tough times, was that I had SCI-Step. I could go in every day and even if I didn’t have the best day at therapy, I knew another person would. Everyone entering the doors of SCI-Step has left knowing they were given an opportunity to do things that they once were told were impossible.”

Two years ago, Anne wanted to help others even more than opening a facility. She wanted to reach out to everyone with a spinal cord injury. Statistics show that 11,000 individuals sustain a spinal cord injury each year and there are currently 250,000 injured in this country alone. “We decided to offer a free week at SCI-Step, including hotel accommodations.” Anne states with enthusiasm that radiates the room.

Yes, you read correctly. A free week of the leading activity-based therapy components with no strings attached and that is just what they have been doing for the past two years. Patients from as far as Canada and Puerto Rico have taken advantage of this generous offer. But Anne doesn’t want to stop there. “We want to continually motivate, educate and support patients on how to keep progressing functionally while science catches up to our injuries.” she adds. To go one step further, Anne encourage all past SCI-Step patients to return and will even help cover the hotel accommodations so they can do so.

Patient also have the option to add more hours to their trial week, stay for a longer duration or return periodically for evaluations and additional therapy based on progress and goals. SCI-Step works with each situation individually and a considerable number of patients have had success with reimbursement from private insurance, worker’s compensation and even state and federal programs . Several patients have even won court cases that will allow coverage of certain parts of the SCI-Step program as part of a long-term health care plan.

“As I look back at the journey of living my life with a spinal cord injury it is easy for me to understand why I was so overwhelmed and angry at first. I, like many of you living with a spinal cord injury, spent the first few years comparing my life before and after my injury. It took me a long time to realize that my life wasn’t worse off than before, instead it was different, almost new in the fact that I have been given the opportunity to relearn to enjoy and live my life to the fullest.”

SCI-Step also offers massage, acupuncture, reflexology, reiki and nutrition counseling sessions. In addition, they work with local vocational programs to help direct patients returning to driving, school or work. For more information on SCI-Step, visit the website at www.sci-step.com, email info@sci-step.com or contact the facility directly at 513-459-2282.