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    Help bring project walk to australia!

    Stop the Press, Project Walk License Secured!

    ‘Miracle’ Melbourne quadriplegics secure rights for US therapy bringing hope to those with spinal cord injuries
    Three young Melbourne quadriplegics, who now walk, have secured the exclusive licensing rights from Project Walk™, a spinal cord injury recovery centre in the USA, to establish the first Project Walk™ Facility in Melbourne.
    Rhiannon Tracey, Josh Wood and Irwin Vale are three young Australians who in the prime of their young lives became quadriplegics through accidents. They were told by doctors in Melbourne that they would never walk again. All three have proved them wrong by achieving the so-called ‘impossible’.
    Rhiannon, Josh and Irwin are actively involved in the promotion and establishment of this world-class “one-stop-shop” facility to be opened in Melbourne, the first in Australia, when the funds are raised.
    Experience is everything and spinal cord injury is the loneliest injury one can suffer as no two injuries are alike, so for a facility such as Project Walk™, it is critical for it to be founded and run by people that live and breathe this injury and who have a raw and pure passion for helping the spinal cord injury community in Australia.
    The empathy and understanding that Rhiannon, Josh, Irwin and their families bring to Project Walk™, Melbourne will set it up as a real alternative to traditional rehabilitation models and the minimal emphasis that is put on recovery through the public health care system.
    Project Walk™ Melbourne facility will be not-for-profit. It will offer hope through a far more “open-minded” approach to intensive exercise-based recovery for spinal cord injured people and their families, who are looking for an alternative, to improve their situation after their release from hospital and the rehabilitation system.
    Project Walk™ team will be holding a Black Tie Gala Ball, (Bringing Project Walk TM to Melbourne) on Saturday 23rd of July at the Centre Ivanhoe. Tickets at

    Photos : Josh Wood, Rhiannon Tracey, Irwin Vale (left to right)
    MEDIA Enquiries:
    Sharyn Bradford 0438354923

    Herald Sun – Inspiring trio talk the talk, walk the walk

    by admin on June 7, 2011

    (From the Herald Sun 7 June 2011) – Direct link HERE
    A NEVER-say-die attitude has enabled three young Victorians to walk again after breaking their necks in accidents.

    Rhiannon Tracey, 22, Josh Wood, 29, and Irwin Vale, 23, said doctors at first gave them no hope of walking again.
    Now they are leading a project they believe may help others overcome crippling spinal injury.
    They have licensing rights from Project Walk, a US-based spinal cord injury recovery centre, to establish a centre in Melbourne.
    They believe Project Walk, a non-profit organisation, has much to offer through its “open-minded” approach to intensive exercise-based recovery.
    They hope to raise $600,000 to $700,000 to open the centre within 18 months, Ms Tracey said.
    All patients would first complete treatment at the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre.

    “We know not everyone will be able to walk again after a spinal injury, but everybody has the ability to regain some movement and quality of life,” she said.

    Ms Tracey, of Mernda, was injured diving into a pool on holiday 18 months ago, and doctors told her she’d be lucky to ever be able to feed herself, let alone walk.
    But after two stints of exercise therapy at Project Walk in the US, she can walk with a frame.
    “It’s just really important to keep things moving. If you don’t use it, you lose it,” she said.
    Mr Vale, injured in a scooter accident nearly three years ago, said exercise, determination and positive thinking had been crucial.
    Mr Vale, of Mornington, who walks with a frame, said having his limbs stretched and weight exercises to boost his bone strength had got him on his feet again.
    Mr Wood, injured in a snowboarding accident 11 years ago, walks with the help of a cane, rides motorbikes and snowboards. Massage and positive thinking had helped him and his goal was to walk unaided by the end of the year.


      Escaping quadriplegia: tackling life step by step

      22 Jun, 2011 04:00 AM
      MORNINGTON'S Irwin Vale was told by doctors he would live the rest of his life as a quadriplegic, unable to move his body as a result of a scooter accident three years ago.

      But he has proved them wrong. Thanks to his parents' support, hard work and an alternative exercise therapy, Mr Vale is walking, with the assistance of crutches, and wants to help others do the same.
      Mr Vale has held a commercial pilot's licence since age 16 and, at age 19 moved to Fiji to work as an instructor.
      Three months into his contract, Mr Vale was on his way to work on his scooter when he was involved in an incident with an unmarked police car which failed to give way to him.
      "I wasn't meant to be working but I went in just to tidy up a few things and I was planning to go away for a couple of days."

      Mr Vale was rushed to hospital with a spinal injury in his neck and a smashed disc. His parents Amela and Armin arrived at the Fijian hospital within 24 hours and began to work on getting their son home to Australia.
      "I was lucky to survive. Usually with my injury the person is not able to breathe," Mr Vale said. "If I wasn't breathing then I don't think I would have survived, they just wouldn't have been able to manage that sort of condition.
      "I've known of people who have died in the same hospital of a broken leg, from infection."

      Mr Vale was transferred to the intensive care unit of the Austin Hospital in Heidelberg where he underwent surgery on his spine. "They told my family I'd never move anything below my neck again, let alone walk."
      Mr Vale stopped taking his anti-spasmodic drugs and secretly worked on teaching his body how to move while he was lying in bed.
      "Instead of accepting it and trying to find ways to adapt to life with a disability, I found ways to recover and get better," he said.
      While he was researching alternative therapies, Mr Vale discovered Project Walk, a program based in America. "It's like boot camp for people with spinal cord injuries. It gave me hope that the intensive exercise was the right thing."
      Mr Vale said under a traditional rehabilitation system, a physiotherapist assisted spinal cord injury patients to retrain only the parts of the body which were still active, to get them by in a wheelchair.
      "At Project Walk they lift you out of the chair - you don't see it for the whole session."
      He is working with two young people who have had spinal injuries to open Project Walk Melbourne, at a cost of about $600,000.
      While the group has received support , it has not received government funding as the therapy is considered a medical alternative.
      A black tie gala ball at The Centre Ivanhoe on July 23 hopes to raise money to bring Project Walk to Melbourne.
      Tickets: $147.90. Details:

      Will to walk: Doctors told Irwin Vale he would always be paralysed from the neck down.


        A MERNDA woman told she would never walk again after breaking her neck and back in 2009 plans to open a franchise of the American centre she says helped get her back on her feet.
        Rhiannon Tracey became a quadriplegic after diving into a pool on holiday in Bali.
        Eighteen months on, not only is she walking again, she has joined quadriplegics Josh Wood and Irwin Vale to buy a $15,000 licence to open Project Walk Melbourne.
        Ms Tracey said she went to the US centre after refusing to believe she would never walk again.
        “When I got there it was a complete turn around. They treat you like a normal person and not like you have a disability,” she said.
        She said Project Walk focused on stimulating the nervous system.
        Ms Tracey said a Melbourne-based, non-profit centre would offer alternative treatment to the seven people admitted to the Austin Hospital’s spinal ward each week.
        But to get it up and running the trio need to raise more than $500,000.
        “Buying the licence was the first big step for us but once it’s open the centre will fund itself,” she said.
        Project Walk Melbourne will hold a gala ball fundraiser on July 23 at The Centre, 275 Upper Heidelberg Rd, Ivanhoe

        Chance to walk again

        Rhiannon Tracey, who broke her neck diving into a pool 18 months ago, is taking her first steps again. Picture: Ian Currie Source: Sunday Herald Sun

        RHIANNON Tracey was told she would never walk again after breaking her neck and three vertebrae on a horror Bali trip.

        But 18 months after inadvertently diving headfirst into a hotel pool, the quadriplegic has taken her first steps again.
        Her incredible progress, however, has come at a massive cost for her Eltham family, who have spent more than $300,000 on physical therapy and specialised help from two trips to an American spinal rehabilitation centre.
        Rhiannon's family is now pleading for corporate support and government backing as they join about 30 other Victorian families to open a franchise of the US centre, Project Walk.
        "Basically I was told there was no point in moving anything that wasn't already moving," Rhiannon said.
        "Every time I had someone with me they were either massaging my hands or legs, but the nurses would say there's no point in doing that.

        "They should never say never, because that puts you in a really dark place."
        Rhiannon's mother, Sharyn Bradford, said Victoria's current spinal rehabilitation philosophy was stopping many people from potentially walking again.
        "In Victoria they get you independent in a wheelchair. That's their focus, walking again was never discussed," Ms Bradford said.
        "I wanted them to do more for Rhiannon, but they didn't want to. They couldn't because they're restricted with government funding."
        While in hospital in Melbourne, the pair spent a night searching the internet for alternatives and found Project Walk.
        Ms Bradford said it worked by getting patients out of their wheelchairs and using physical activity to reactivate the central nervous system through an exercise and weight-bearing program.
        "Not everyone is going to walk, we know that. But if you've got a chance to be able to get back your sensation of feeling, so you can feel a pressure sore before it gets infected and kills you, that's going to save you going into the hospital system," she said.
        "The worst case scenario is that you only get stronger."
        Ms Bradford said they met many Australian spinal-cord patients while at the American centre and had seen the toll of moving overseas for treatment.

        "This type of injury cuts you off from the world and our government is not helping this because they won't look outside the square to what can help people," she said.
        * For details, contact Sharyn Bradford on 0438 354 923.


          Hi Rannie,
          Can you please clarify whether what you are advertising is in conjunction with Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA), and their endeavours to open a WalkOn facility in Melbourne (WalkOn being the Australian licensed version of PW, as I understand it).

          Reason I ask is that SCIA are having a similar function for the same purpose, yet neither your articles above, or SCIA's site ( make any mention of the other. And it doesn't seem sensible if two (competing?) parties are trying to raise money for essentially the same thing, does it?

          And just to be picky, WalkOn exists in both Brisbane and Sydney already, so a Melbourne site would not be the first in Australia, as your initial post states.

          Please note that I am a supporter of PW/WalkOn, I'm just confused about the lack of connection between your posts above, and what I understood the situation to be with WalkOn.

          Gordon, father of son who became t6 paraplegic at the age of 4 in 2007 as a result of surgery to remove a spinal tumour.


            Hi Gorden,
            In response to your question about our association with SCIA, we are an independent licensed group who are bringing the actual PROJECT WALK model to Australia.
            While Walk On practice the methodology of Project Walk, our center will be running directly based on that of the center in Carlsbad.

            We definetly do not intend on competing with SCIA, but purely want to offer more options for people with SCI.

            For more information please see our website