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Activity Based Rehab Program at Washington University Rehab Facility in St. Louis

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    Activity Based Rehab Program at Washington University Rehab Facility in St. Louis

    Has anyone been to St. Louis, and gone through the activity based recovery program that Dr. McDonald started and if so can you share your experience and opinion of the program?

    I am moving this over to the Exercise forum where you will find more activity related to this topic.

    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


      hope2; I have an appointment to go to Wash U for an eval on Dec 2. They must have a full load because it took 2 1/2 months to get appt. I will be seeing Dr Sadowsky. I would be happy to give you any info about my experience there afterward. but you'll prolly have to remind me!


        I am a St. Louis resident who participates in an after-hours program at the Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis. I love the program. I get to use the therapy equipment in a supervised atmosphere. I feel empowered because I am responsible for my own health. I am not just sitting around waiting. I am working hard towards better health. My experiences are my own and may not apply to you, but I no longer take Baclofen to manage spasticity because the legs are being worked and I have improved my bone density from a -4.0 standard deviation to a -3.1. I hope to get that number even lower. I lift weights on the days that I don't ride the bike and I am getting more comments about my appearance. I don't look as skinny as before and I have started to "bulk up." I am grateful for the program. I believe in it. More importantly, I believe in activity. We need to do more to take our care into our own hands. Learning the program is easy. Staying on it takes dedication. Life-long therapy is a great concept. I wish I would have known that ten years ago when I left therapy to pursue life "from a wheelchair." My legs got in the way back then. Now, they don't feel like lifeless sticks. They look more like they used to.

        Good Luck in St. Louis. I hope all goes well for you. Their approach is welcome to a guy whose past experiences were not so hopeful.

        I don't mind hard work, as long as it proves fruitful.
        "Carpe carp."--- Seize the fish!


          Popcorn, great news about your program.

          Would you mind providing a little more information about the program in terms of:

          A) Enrollment requirements?
          B) Cost. And is it private pay or insurance based?
          C) Duration/length of stay? (hrs per day? weeks?)


          I think that this program, from sources and personal investigation, is probably the best in the country. I'd love to spend a month or so there.


            I found the link on crpf to apply online to WASH U. Filled out app online and submitted.They were fast to reply! and i think that is how they prequalify you. They did accept my ins and gave me the green light to come in for an eval on dec 2. I hope popcorn can shed more light on duration etc,as I don't have all the scoop yet.

            Go to for app.



              there are other programs available for which you are not billed for insurance and do not have to pay.These include research programs as well as volunteer programs that others have mentioned.

              As a researcher performing research with stroke and SCI patients, I could not imagine charging folks for something that I myself do not know works. Similarly, I can say that there are many of us who do not view the "Project Walks," "Sci-Steps," and the like very positively, as they charge for programs that are still considered experimental and are not medically based.

              I mention this as a reminder to folks to be careful!! [img]/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif[/img]



                I went on an outpatient basis. Once they determined that I was independent, able to get myself on and off of a stim bike, I joined the after hours program. I pay out of pocket to be a part of the program as it is not covered by insurance. I do not need a therapist so there is no need for me to take up valuable therapy time that could be spent on others more in need. As a note to dcsteve, this is an exercise-therapy program. Similar to a gym membership only for those with SCI's and stuff. You just have to be evaluated by a doctor and then seen in the therapy gym to see if you will respond to stim properly. It is not for everyone.

                Here are the nuts and bolts:
                You can learn the program quickly, however length of time will need to be determined by the doctor and the therapist. That is usually covered by insurance. It is an evaluation that all of us need on a regular basis.

                The after-hours program is for exercise and therapy. Monthly cost is around $35 but don't quote me on that.

                The after-hours program is different from the ABRP. The ABRP is designed to be done in the home using your own equipment. The after-hours program is done at the center.
                "Carpe carp."--- Seize the fish!


                  To dcstve:

                  I have sought out research programs, and either been denied access altogether because I didn't fit their tight parameters; or I've been allowed to participate and actually realized some benefit, only to be denied continued progress because of the limited scope of the "research project." Explain those ethics if you can.

                  I'm guessing that someone is paying you to conduct research that you don't know works. Possibly with money that has been contributed by the likes of those you are addressing here. You're certainly entitled to your "researcher" opinion, but I don't need any more "self-serving-research" to know that exercise is good and immobility is not.

                  The main guideline that I use in my personal, ever-evolving fitness program is whether a particular activity would help or hinder a healthy able-bodied person. Purposeful exercise meets that criteria just as conclusively as breathing does.

                  I can't afford to attend any of these comprehensive, regimental programs, but I welcome their existence because they fill a critical void in the neurological recovery process.

                  Research on, but try not to impose your personal limits on those of us living in the real world.

                  The fight among men is not of good and evil, but opposing ideas of good.
                  Know Thyself


                    Sounds very much like a regular gym, with an affordable monthly fee. I think it's great and there should be more places like this around, so people with spinal cord injuries can have access to the equipment necessary to maintain their health, maximize and perhaps even gain function. Maybe in the future there will be. It's sounds more and more like Washington University School of Medicine is an exceptional facility. Thanks so much for sharing this information with us.


                      Rick, excellent post. [img]/forum/images/smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]

                      Digger, popcorn - thank you.

                      Onward and upward everyone!


                        It is great to hear of another place to go for activity-based therapy. I wish everyone the best!

                        As an FYI- Sci-Step allows people to do this type of "drop-in, gym-like" training for those near Cincinnati.


                          A friend of mind is currently at Washington University Rehab in St Louis and his parents rave about his progress. Was wondering if anyone else had any information or updates on this subject.
                          Thanks, Mike

                          T12 Incomplete - Walking with Walker, Oct 2003
                          T12 Incomplete - Walking with Crutches, Injured in Oct 2003


                            I went through Dr. McDonald's program a few years ago. I learned so much about how to exercise. They helped me form a home rehab program that specifically met my needs. They made a huge difference in my rehab.


                              Someone from the carecure forum told us about a doctor there, and my husband went for an evaluation. We were so very impressed with the entire staff and program there. We can't speak highly enough about it. We believe this is one of the best spinal cord injury programs in the country.