News

Maximising life choices for people with spinal cord injury


17 February 2014

Minister John Ajaka, Professor Michelle Lincoln and Professor Glen Davis (l - r) talking with a client of the Walk On program
Minister John Ajaka, Professor Michelle Lincoln and Professor Glen Davis (l - r) talking with a client of the Walk On program


NSW Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka today visited Spinal Cord Injuries Australia's Walk On program at The University of Sydney's Faculty of Health Sciences to tour its facilities and see first hand the support it provides to assist people with a severe physical disability due to a spinal cord injury.


Through a unique partnership arrangement which embeds community-based service delivery into teaching and research, the Faculty of Health Sciences at The University of Sydney works with the NSW Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) to deliver the Walk On program in Sydney. The program provides a vital exercise rehabilitation service for the community and an avenue for transformative research in this area.


"Spinal Cord Injuries Australia provides much needed expertise and understanding in developing ways to overcome challenges for people with a severe physical disability due to a spinal cord injury. The Walk On program has grown significantly and has expanded all over Australia." Mr Ajaka said.


Professor Michelle Lincoln, Acting Dean Faculty of Health Sciences, said "The Faculty of Health Sciences is very proud of our partnership with SCIA, which enables us to continually advance research knowledge and teaching practice while delivering valuable services to the community."


Mr Peter Perry, CEO SCIA said that Spinal Cord Injuries Australia is committed to finding effective ways for people with spinal cord injury to be able to live lives no different from anyone else. Lives where choices are possible and self-determination a reality.


"SCIA's programs help to relieve and reduce the burden of care upon broader society. We see it as our role to do whatever it takes to assist people to get back on track after a spinal cord injury so that they can become the masters of their own destiny, rather than recipients of care.


"The Walk On program assists over 90 clients per week, and has improved the lives of over 260 people nationally. The smallest improvements in the function of a paralysed person, makes enormous differences to their independence and quality of life.


"The Minister's visit affords us an opportunity to demonstrate the amazing outcomes and progress made by our Walk On participants of all ages as well as to meet the team who make it all possible."


Mr Ajaka acknowledged the proficiency and commitment of SCIA staff together with Physiotherapy and Exercise and Sports Science students from The University of Sydney in making it possible for people with spinal cord injury to maximise their life choices.


"It is wonderful to see the results that can be achieved by non-government organisations with the support of government funding. They not only make a difference to people's lives in NSW, but their expertise is also recognised and accepted internationally" he said.


Walk On is an individually designed intensive activity based rehabilitation program to assist a person with a spinal cord injury to improve and maximise their functional ability and lead a more independent life. The program involves intense, dynamic, weight-bearing exercises all performed out of the wheelchair one-on-one with a qualified exercise physiologist or physiotherapist. Walk On is a community based rehabilitation program available to people following their discharge from hospital. Walk On clients regularly report significant functional improvements from their involvement in the program which has led to a positive impact upon their quality of life.