Firstly, introductions: My name is Peter Perry and I’m CEO of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia, known as SCIA. We’re jumping into the social media sandpit and starting a blog that chronicles stories from some of the 12,000 Australians affected by Spinal Cord Injury, their families and all those who help.
SCIA has been around for 40 years, and we’re driven to help people with a spinal cord injury to become independent in the community. We are a community-based organisation, we support people and assist them to live a better quality of life. Some of the support we provide includes information programs, accommodation services, employment services and peer support services, all about providing people with support and assistance when they need it. You can find out more at http://www.scia.org.au/.
SCIA doesn’t sit around waiting for others. We like to think of ourselves as trendsetters and Walk On, the new exercise recovery program we launch nationally on November 9, is a good example. We knew the program was operating in the USA – as Project Walk – and we saw it would be of benefit to our clients and members. Our members asked, so we went to the States to find out about bringing it Down Under.
SCIA is a pragmatic organisation. We’re not an academic research unit who researches something for decades, although there is a place for that, but others are better qualified. We roll up our sleeves, get in and get started.
And so, Project Walk (USA) and Walk On (AUS) explore new rehabilitation and recovery strategies for people with a spinal cord injury in a safe and controlled environment. We see the benefits from Project Walk clients in the USA and are seeing the same results in clients participating in our Brisbane pilot program. The next steps are our national launch at the Sydney Opera House, beginning Walk On in Sydney, and rolling the program out to other states and territories.
We’re excited about Walk On because it’s changing people’s lives post-SCI. It’s not all about walking again – not too many end up walking – it’s about improving functional recovery. If you have been paralysed and can drive your car again, clean your teeth, lift up your kids to give them a hug: all these things are huge achievements.
A word about some people in the community who appear suspicious of the program. While Walk On has not yet been 'scientifically proven' with years of research, we see results and real-life benefits every day. We are offering this opportunity to anyone in Australia with a Spinal Cord Injury (and there’s about 300 new cases every year) rather than people having to travel to the USA for the program or waiting years for it to happen.
How many people are in some way affected by a spinal injury? There are 12,000 Aussies affected by the injury itself, but so many more directly and indirectly than that – and we want to reach out to everyone to spread the word about Walk On.
Spinal Cord Injuries Australia is keen to have conversations in the online community because online forums give us all a voice and a chance to better understand each other’s unique perspective.
Chief Executive Officer
Spinal Cord Injuries Australia
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