What is a Community Fitness and Wellness (CFW) Facility?

Janne Kouri NextStep

The mission of the Reeve Foundation's NeuroRecovery Network® (NRN) Community Fitness and Wellness Program is to expand the development of specialized facilities for individuals living with spinal cord injury (SCI) and other physical disabilities.

These facilities deliver standardized activity-based exercises based on current scientific and clinical evidence. CFWs create a complete fitness and wellness program that incorporates Locomotor Training, electrical stimulation with cycling, cardiovascular conditioning and strength training.

Research indicates that individuals living with paralysis can benefit from exercise programs that integrate strength and aerobic fitness training, flexibility exercises, and walking practice.

Providing this type of program requires facilities that are fully accessible, have specialized equipment, and maintain higher levels of staffing with people trained to provide these interventions. As a result, most fitness centers do not make long-term investments to meet the needs of individuals living with paralysis.

CFWs are part of the Reeve Foundation's NeuroRecovery Network® (NRN), which also supports five clinical centers that work to improve function, health and quality of life for people living with spinal cord injury through the development of activity-based therapies.

Each CFW site is staffed by athletic trainers, personal trainers and exercise physiologists, which are referred to as activity-based technicians. These technicians are trained annually through the NRN. The programs offered through CFWs are based on the Neuromuscular Recovery Scale, which was developed by the NRN to ensure all exercises are individualized yet standardized to facilitate recovery and support personal fitness goals.

Data from both NRN clinical centers and CFW facilities are also uploaded to a network-wide database that includes comprehensive medical and fitness information, as well as outcome measures on the progress of each individual. By collecting and analyzing this information, the NRN is able to measure the impact of these cutting-edge therapies on health and quality of life.

Learn about the facility near you

The five NRN Community Fitness & Wellness facilities offer an activity-based approach to fitness designed for people living with spinal cord injury and other physical disabilities.

The Reeve Foundation is committed to the continued expansion of NRN Community Fitness and Wellness program in order to offer people living with paralysis access to exercises that will help them be “fit for life.” As more NRN CFW facilities come on board, we will list them here.

Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute (Minneapolis, MN)

Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute is a Minnesota-based nonprofit rehabilitation and resource center that empowers people with disabilities to realize their full potential in every aspect of life.

To enhance its services to clients with spinal cord injury, paralysis and other neurological conditions, Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute joined the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network® in 2010 as a Community Fitness and Wellness Facility.

The Activity-Based Locomotor Exercise (ABLE) program offered at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute is based on the best scientific and clinical evidence available. Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute takes a holistic mind-body approach to rehabilitation and lifelong wellness.

The ABLE team designs personalized programs for clients using Locomotor Training, functional electrical stimulation and other fitness activities that challenge muscles below the level of injury. ABLE promotes improvements in health, fitness, strength and quality of life.

For more information, visit the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute website.
Email: Jeanne Olson, Jeanne.M.Olson@allina.com

Frazier Rehab Institute Community Fitness and Wellness Facility (Louisville, KY)

The Community Fitness and Wellness Facility at Frazier Rehab Institute in collaboration with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s NeuroRecovery Network® provides individuals with disabilities the opportunity to be “fit for life.”

This activity-based exercise program is designed specifically for individuals with physical disabilities to improve cardiovascular and aerobic fitness, muscular strengthening and flexibility.

Frazier Rehab’s Community Fitness Facility is fully accessible with state of the art equipment and professional staff trained to provide specialized activity-based exercise interventions.

For more information, visit the Frazier Rehab Institute Fitness and Wellness Facility website.
Email: Kim Atkinson, KimberlyAtkinson@kentuckyonehealth.org

Journey Forward (Canton, MA)

Journey Forward is an exercise-based program designed to assist those with spinal cord injuries so that they too can achieve basic lifelong functions and benefits. Journey Forward clients will work on many different activities, including gait training, load bearing, and full body neural stimulation.

The group is focused on making its program as accessible as possible and is working on expanding to additional locations across the country.

For more information, visit the Journey Forward website.
Email: John Walters, johnw@journey-forward.org

NextSteps Chicago (Willow Springs, IL)

NextSteps Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Rehabilitation Center is the first nonprofit physical therapy and exercise facility devoted to the rehabilitation and overall wellness of people living with SCI in the Chicago area.

Its mission is to provide the Chicago SCI community with affordable, dynamic, and progressive spinal cord injury rehabilitation while utilizing technologically advanced equipment and personalized physical therapy and exercise therapy.

NextSteps provides treatment for chronic and acute SCI clients by leveraging the latest advances and knowledge in treating spinal cord injuries through activity-based exercises that lead to greater function and sensation even after years of paralysis.

For more information, visit the NextSteps Chicago website.
Email: Meg Burke, mburke@nextstepschicago.org

NextStep (Lawndale, CA)

NextStep provides the opportunity for lifelong health and recovery through affordable and progressive community fitness, health, and wellness facilities that serve people living with paralysis and other mobility impairments.

NextStep has paved the way with the first community facility in the U.S. to offer Locomotor Training and other activity-based exercises at its state of the art facility in Los Angeles with a vision to expand to additional locations across the United States.

Customized programs are designed based on the individual’s condition, personalized goals, and fitness, health, and wellness needs.

For more information, visit the NextStep website.
Email: Janne Kouri, management@nextstepfitness.org

NeuroRecovery Network® Community Fitness and Wellness Facilities FAQ

What is the difference between a clinical center and a Community Fitness and Wellness facility?
At the present time, NRN clinical centers only enroll individuals who are living with a spinal cord injury. NRN CFWs can accept individuals with a spinal cord injury or any other physical disability. In a community facility, the NRN Locomotor Training component is part of a larger exercise facility.

By providing a continuum of care, CFWs offer people living with physical disabilities the opportunity to improve their health and fitness through regular exercise and activity-based therapies.

What are the criteria for joining a community-based NRN Locomotor Training program?
A client must have a completed medical release form, signed by his or her physician, stating that he or she is medically and physically stable to participate in the Locomotor Training program.

What is the cost of joining a facility?
Each community facility is independently operated; therefore, cost of membership will vary by facility. Unlike the NRN clinical centers, the CFW client is responsible for all costs associated with membership.