Neurokinex (charity number 1169964)—the first and only international community fitness and wellness affiliate of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation’s NeuroRecovery Network (NRN)—has opened Neurokinex Kids to help children living with paralysis. This Gatwick-based facility provides children in the UK with rehabilitation therapies; a combination of utilising scientific research on brain and spinal cord plasticity, and activity-based interventions designed to achieve greater motor and autonomic recoveries.
The Neurokinex Kids paediatric rehabilitation facility runs two NRN developed programmes that are not available anywhere else in Europe: locomotor training and neuromuscular electrical stimulation.
Locomotor training reawakens dormant nerve pathways by repetitively stimulating the nerves and muscles in the lower body and thus retrains the spinal cord to ‘remember’ the pattern of walking. During the training session, the individual is suspended in a harness above a treadmill and practises standing and stepping with the aid of specially trained technicians. As the person gains function, improvements in sitting, standing, reaching, grasping or walking can occur.
Neuromuscular electrical stimulation is a non-invasive activity-based rehabilitation that uses pulses of electrical current to achieve muscle contractions and patterned muscle activity that enables a person to complete a specific task. Electrical stimulation activates muscles despite weakness or paralysis through neurological disease or injury.
Research shows that a person is paralysed every eight hours in the UK1. Forty thousand people in the UK are currently living with spinal cord injury, and there are 1,000 new cases per year1; one in 400 babies is born with Cerebral Palsy1, and 300 new cases of Transverse Myelitis strike each year1. Recent advances in the treatment of paralysis are therefore critical to help individuals regain lost mobility and improve their quality of life.
The younger the child is at the time of a spinal cord injury, the more likely they are to experience long-term health issues such as bone disorders (stunted growth, osteoporosis, scoliosis and joint malformation), muscle contractures, significant loss of muscle bulk, respiratory and circulation problems and bowel and bladder dysfunction. Children have greater neuroplasticity (the ability of the central nervous system and neurological pathways to reorganise after injury) than adults, making them more receptive to activity-based rehabilitation interventions.
The Neurokinex Kids programme offers activity-based rehabilitation interventions that result in a multitude of benefits addressing the common paediatric health issues, including improved muscle function and quality, skin health, bone health, growth and range of motion. A variety of paediatric equipment has been installed at Neurokinex Kids to stimulate exploratory play that, in turn, builds strength, range of motion and co-ordination.
Matthew Reeve, Christopher Reeve’s elder son and Vice Chairman of International Development for the Reeve Foundation, was on hand to celebrate the launch of Neurokinex Kids and share his thoughts on how the facility was continuing to drive his father’s mission forward.
Matthew Reeve, vice chairman of international development for the Reeve foundation, attended the Neurokinex launch. Reeve comments, “Since its inception, the goal of the NeuroRecovery Network has always been to develop cutting-edge treatments so that individuals living with paralysis could recover functions once thought to be lost. This partnership with Neurokinex is the Reeve Foundation’s first endeavour to establish a global network of rehabilitation facilities united under a common protocol.”
“Every NRN participant has experienced significant improvements ranging from enhanced physical health and quality of life to standing and even stepping. We look forward to hearing more success stories from this Gatwick facility and we’re confident that more and more people living with paralysis will continue to benefit from the NRN’s approach to improved care, recovery, and rehabilitation.”
Harvey Sihota, CEO and founder of Neurokinex, comments, “It is an honour and a privilege to be chosen by the NeuroRecovery Network as a Community Fitness and Wellness affiliate to deliver its unique protocols and the results we’ve seen so far in our adult clients have been startling. Neurokinex Kids has been the result of a huge team effort—in designing the space, specifying the equipment, training more staff and getting behind an ambitious fundraising campaign to make our plans a reality. The opening of Neurokinex Kids is nothing short of humbling: the sky’s the limit for our kids and the activity-based interventions and exercise, expertise and support play a huge part in what we can offer here.”
1 BackUp Trust
2 BackUp Trust
4 Transverse Myelitis Society