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Thread: My Experience At Project Walk

  1. #1

    My Experience At Project Walk

    Hello all. Glad to be back on the forums.

    Imagine quads 4yrs post on spin bikes, paras doing leg presses, people who literally couldn't move a muscle or feel a touch a year ago walking unassisted.

    Crazy, you say. Doesn't happen. I'm a liar. No, I've seen it with my own eyes. Experienced it firsthand (I rode and pedaled a spin bike in addition to many other exercises). Having spent the better part of a week here I had the opportunity to meet, workout with, have lunch with and talk to these fellow sci sufferers. I have joined their ranks and furthered my belief in recovery through intensive exercise. Project Walk is the real deal!

    Let me try and provide you with a succinct and comprehensive review of the realities, pros and cons of Project Walk.

    Situated about 5 miles east of the beach in Carlsbad, CA and located in an office park near Palomar Airport Project Walk and its 5000 sq.ft. is the brainchild of fellow New Jerseyian Ted Dardzinski and his wife Tammy. Ted, after working with Mike Thomas (walking quad) and many clients since, has created a customized exercise recovery program for quads and paras whose ultimate goal is to relearn how to walk. Not stumble with a walker or use KAFO braces but walk, as we used to know, unassisted.

    How is this done?

    Work, work and more work. For roughly three to four hours a day 5 days a week (add one hour for lunch) each client is put through their individual paces (every client is unique as is every injury) with the help of exercise therapists. (To be fair, exercise therapist is not really the term I'd like to use, it doesn't really do them justice, (maybe professional, sci customized personal trainers is better?) but is probably the most accurate. Each trainer, their ranks are building fast, with the guidance of Ted, Tammy and Eric Harness (manager and coordinator) tries to apply their skills in the most effective way possible based on that individual client's strengths, weaknesses and goals. No workout is the same although the principles applied are - strength, stability, balance, coordination. This is accomplished in many ways through many methods. (Too many to mention). Over time as these core areas improve the routine is then altered and advanced to achieve another goal. Whether this takes days, weeks, or most likely months noone yet knows. Again, every client is unique.
    Regardless, progress is made for everyone.

    Who are the clients?

    I was in the minority. At nearly 39yrs old I was close to twice the average age of the majority of clientele. Late teens to early/mid 20's seems to be the norm.
    Every client however has one common goal - to walk again. And most of them are busting their ass to do it. Foster (spinewire member) and his son Ryan are making the most of it. As are Joy, Chris, Matt, etc. This is not a place where the meek and mild dwell. Attitude abounds just like a regular gym and everyone is pushing themselves - there is no choice the process towards walking is hard work.

    As far as requirements are concerned to be accepted into the Project Walk program the parameters are still being worked out. From what I could tell and in my opinion qualifications should be based upon work ethic, commitment, and support system. Years injured shouldn't be a factor and incompleteness is a judgement call. Is everyone a candidate for Project Walk? No. It's got to be selective and individual. And come to think of it if you join and you're not working hard you should and will be weeded out from those who want it worse than you. Hopefully the integrity of the program will never be compromised.

    Investment Cost?

    At $3,000 a month it's a steal in relative terms. For 100 hours a month of personal training and guidance the cost breaks down to roughly $30 an hour. Try and hire a personal trainer to do what Project Walk therapists do and it'll probably cost you $60+ (at least in my neighborhood).

    So far most insurances will not cover this. Project Walk is a recovery center not a rehab center and is privately funded. The distinction is very important and the plusses and minusses abound.


    Can you uproot and move to CA for two years (more or less)giving up your current life? Job? Spouse? Family? Are you willing to work harder than you ever have before (pre or post injury)? How bad do you want it and what trade-offs are you willing to make? How's your overall health?

    Project Walk is not perfect and doesn't claim to be. They are experiencing some serious growing pains. Administration and organization are their weak points. Also, initial assessment and on going tracking of progress (which are being addressed) are important to its future and attractiveness for additional funding as well as clientele.

    Overall Project Walk, as I stated, is the real deal. SCI sufferers are getting better through exercise. So much better that some, not all, are literally back on their feet and walking. It's wonderful to see and amazing to witness what the human body is capable of doing when its nervous system is disrupted and then reengaged and reorganized. I believe, and have told Ted, that his approach and methodology are going to be the cornerstones of our recovery. I'm imagining an explosion in popularity with a Project Walk in every state and sci model center. Why? Because it works.

    I've only scratched the surface in this review. Please post any and all questions.


    And to everyone at Project Walk - thank you for everything and I'll see you in January!

    Onward and Upward!

    [This message was edited by Chris on Sep 16, 2002 at 03:37 PM.]

    [This message was edited by Chris on Sep 16, 2002 at 04:02 PM.]

  2. #2

    Thank you, Chris

    I've been very interested in Project Walk since I first heard about it. It is very helpful to hear a first hand account from someone who has no vested interest in the organization and who's opinion I respect. The entire premise made a great deal of sense to me and I only wish they would establish a center on the east coast. Please tell us more and keep us informed.

    Thanks again,

  3. #3
    This is good news in light of CR's extensive recovery from physical therapy. Hopefully it will revolutionize the rehab. care industry and force insurance companies to pay so that every new SCI person can have access to facilities like Project Walk that are offering PT intensive services.

    Chris, did you talk to any complete quadriplegics who had recovered function?

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Chino Hills, CA 91709

    You mentioned talking with Chris while you were there, that's my son, he told me he talked to you. I remembered that you wre going there this week. I'm glad to see your respnse to what you saw. After Christopher and I went to check the place out a few months ago, I posted how impressed we were and what our experience was (which was just like yours and Foster's)and I was quickly ridiculed by Paul for my postings. Christopher started there a month ago and has already had some great progress but I have chosen not to post anything because I don't feel like being attacked again. I really do feel like this is going to make a huge difference in his life and everyone else who goes. Good luck to you.


  5. #5
    Seneca, Linda,

    Seneca, yes I witnessed paras and quads who are/were completes. Sensory, motor or both. Obviously the more incomplete the faster the recovery but most quads there are motor complete and they have relearned how to walk. One woman is 9yrs post. One guy was 4yrs post. The PW people are forever tweaking their program and hence the duration, repetition and intensity are different for each client. And although the exercises and equipment are not unique (you could conceivably do these at home) what you're paying for, imo, is the customization. For example, I have a pretty strong upper body including triceps so my exercise regime was more focused on my trunk and legs. Someone who has no triceps would most likely work to strengthen them initially. This is a recovery program not a rehabilitation (we've all been brainwashed) program.


    I agree. East coast, midwest, south, mountain this program should be available to all of us. And, btw, this type of regimen can be done at home although its hard to commit to 4-5hrs per day. Personally, I'm going to talk to the folks at Craig hospital and see if I can get something going locally.


    Your son Christopher is doing very well. I have no doubt that he will be back on his feet and walking. I know that he's got some time ahead of him but he's determined, smart and working hard. Astrophysics? C'mon Chris I won't be able to talk to you soon.
    And Kitty please disregard the naysayers. They exist in every facet of our lives and aren't worth combating. You and I know the truth.

    Onward and Upward!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Scorpion's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Los Angeles
    I'll quit working, move to CA to 'excercise and WILL' myself into recovering from SCI. Oh wait, where will I get $3000.00 a month for 2 years? Wait, where will I get two years of free time to run after this scheme? Yes, I use the word scheme purposely. I'll need to see hard scientific research before I believe this thing project works at all, especially for motor completes.


    "'re not promised tomorrow, so live for today" (Stuck Mojo)

  7. #7
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Montreal,Province of Quebec, CANADA

    Thanks Chris

    For your good insight...but I think majority(me included) cannot afford this
    without help from insurance...
    "It has been said that for the truth to exist, it takes two people - one to speak it...and another to hear it. Mankind will be forever doomed to destruction if we continue to ask for the truth...but then refuse to listen.." Outer Limits( To Tell The Truth )

  8. #8
    Senior Member Jeremy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Chris What kind of therapy do they give quads to regain the use of their triceps, wrists, hands and fingers, I'd be interested to see if they get useful function back.

    "If the wind could blow my troubles away. I'd stand in front of a hurricane."

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    I read some good news in my paper today, they have started using treadmill therapy at Glasgow Southern General which just happens to be where I go for check-ups.The report said that 9 people out of 14 succeeded in walking though as is usual with newspaper reports it confuses the issue with statements like "patients selected were also still in the acute phase of their injury having suffered paralysis within the last six years".The Dr interviewed said that "the hope was to restore the function of some neural circuits, though it will not provoke the growth of new ones" He added "the treatment won`t work for everyone, particularly those whose spinal cords have been completely severed" "But we believe it could help dozens of victims who have incomplete injuries." The project will present their results at the end of the month. They hope that the Scottish Executive will fund a much larger study next year. I find the report heartening because usually when I went there they did their best to dampen any enthusiasm I had for recovery.
    We are lucky in the UK because this treatment will be done on the NHS for free though if successful I would imagine there will be a huge backlog of people to get through.I`m due to go there next month for a check-up so I will try to find out what I can about the trials.

  10. #10

    ? for chris

    Does a sci-injured person with flaccid muscles respond better to intensive exercise, according to PW? I have spastic muscles who refuse to respond to intensive exercise and believe me I've tried. They become stiff and tired fairly quickly because of growth inhibitors most likely. How would PW get around this? It seems they may only work with those of flaccid muscles.


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