Push to Walk Attends Working 2 Walk Symposium

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Push to Walk staff attended the Working 2 Walk Science & Advocacy Symposium in Irvine, California from November 1 through November 3, 2012 hosted by Unite to Fight Paralysis.

The mind is important and needs to be maintained just as much as the body because when the time for U.S. clinical trials comes both need to be prepared.

Unite to Fight Paralysis began holding W2W in 2006 to bring research scientists, practitioners, investors, spinal cord injury (SCI) survivors and family members together. Attendees travel from all around the world to attend this annual conference to gain greater knowledge about the latest advancements in research and network with others. The focal point of this year’s symposium was the regeneration of connections that mediate motor function after SCI.

The three days included many talks on different studies. Hans Keirstead explained how mature astroglial scars prohibit growth, but by modifying those cells to “age backwards” the axons, which allow commands to flow from the brain to the body, will be able to reconnect. Keirstead and his group have successfully done this in a petri dish and are now looking to make attempts using live organisms. Justin Brown shared information on how nerves can be severed and reconnected differently to regain certain losses of hand functions.

A concept featured during a tour of the Human Performance Lab in the Reeve-Irvine Research Center given by Kelly Sharp and Dr. An-Do was found to be the most beneficial to Push to Walk trainer, Tommy Sutor. In the lab he was able to observe individuals using brain interface technology to make avatars walk on a monitor in front of them. It was explained that the act of thinking about walking is as crucial and as important as maintaining physical health. Studies have shown if a person does not continue to think about and attempt to walk or perform motions their body is currently unable to do, the motor cortex of the brain atrophies, as with any other unused muscle within the body.

Although the entirety of the conference was interesting, the information about the motor cortex of the brain needing to be used is a concept that can be applied within Push to Walk. Tommy states “we need to ask our clients to do things in very specific ways triggering their minds to be used rather than allowing them to go through the motions in certain cases.” “The mind is important and needs to be maintained just as much as the body because when the time for U.S. clinical trials comes both need to be prepared.”

Push to Walk is able to cover only about 75% of its operating costs through client fees, and relies on fundraising events to help make up the difference. “Continuing education is of utmost importance and conferences like Working 2 Walk can only be attended with the help of fundraising,” explains Push to Walk founder, Cynthia Templeton.

Donation opportunities are available on the Push to Walk website: http://www.pushtowalknj.org. For more information, please contact Stephanie Lajam at (862) 200-5848 or slajam(at)pushtowalknj(dot)org.

About Push to Walk
Founded in 2007, Push to Walk is the only non-profit specialized exercise gym in the New York-New Jersey area that empowers people with spinal cord injuries to realize their individual potential. Push to Walk’s rigorous one-on-one workout approach challenges clients to reach their personal goals and achieve maximum independence, leading to greater success and fulfillment in their personal and professional lives.

A 501(C) 3 non-profit, Push to Walk is located in Riverdale, New Jersey. Visit http://www.pushtowalknj.org to learn more.

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Stephanie Lajam
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