Victory Walk Inc. provides clients hope, improved quality of life
SPRINGDALE—Brian Wood of Beebe has had two near-death experiences in his life, a fact that has taught him to never take anything for granted.
The most recent was August 24 when his house burned to the ground, nearly with him inside. Passersby saw the house burning and got him out in time, he said. Wood was unable to get himself out of the house because of the first near-death experience—a car accident that happened Oct. 28, 2006 that left him a quadriplegic.
Wood agreed his friends might think he doesn’t have many hobbies but that isn’t because he’s boring or depressed. Quite the opposite, actually.
“I don’t complain about the same things I used to complain about,” he said. “I have faith and that’s what’s gotten me through this.”
The reason Wood doesn’t have many of the typical hobbies is because he’s pretty focused on one thing these days: recovery.
“My goal is to get up out of this chair,” he said.
Wood has an at-home program but he’s added another weapon to his recovery arsenal—he travels across the state weekly to visit Victory Walk Inc., a spinal-cord recovery center in Springdale.
Established in April 2009, Victory Walk Inc. was created because a Northwest Arkansas couple knew the area needed better ways of helping people with spinal-cord injuries. Al and Lynda Lemke have first-hand knowledge of the need because their son, Greg Lemke, has been a quadriplegic since an all-terrain vehicle accident in January 2007.
“We knew he needed more therapy than just range of motion,” said Al Lemke.
Lynda Lemke agreed.
“We wanted to think outside the box,” she said. “When there are ways, you go find the ways.”
Through fundraising and family help, the couple created Victory Walk Inc. with the goal of supplying affordable, individualized therapy. Patients must pay for the hourly services out of their own pocket, but friends and family can help through purchasing gift certificates. There are other fund-raising opportunities available for Victory Walk, which are shared on the organization’s website.
The individualized therapy sessions are developed using a multi-phase process called the Dardzinski Method, according to information from Victory Walk.
The Dardzinski Method, according to information provided on the Project Walk website (www.projectwalk.org), “is a physical fitness and performance program for the nervous system. It is not physical or occupational therapy. Using the same principals of elite athletic conditioning, (the) program is based on performance conditioning of the nervous system.”
As the organization has grown in the last year, it has added clients and developed even better ways to serve the clients’ needs. It now serves 12 clients, an all-time high for the center. It now has a full-time trainer and a part-time trainer.
Greg Alderson, Victory Walk Inc.’s spinal-cord injury specialist/trainer recently became qualified as a Certified SCI Recovery Apprentice. (Spinal-cord injuries are usually referred to as SCI.). He earned the initial part of the certification in January 2010, where he learned the fundamentals of the Dardzinski Method.
Alderson said each spinal-cord injury is different in how it affects the person involved.
“It’s almost like a fingerprint,” he said. “There’s going to be different levels and different timetables of accomplishment for each person.”
The Dardzinski Method has helped increase mobility for all the clients who work with the method, some to the point that they’ve regained the ability to walk.
“We realize that not everyone is going to be able to walk again,” Lynda said. “But we do know that their quality of life will be improved.”
Wood has not seen much of an increase in his ability to move since starting at
Victory Walk about two months ago. But he has noticed an increase in his sensation, which is a marked improvement. If he can find a way to afford it, he hopes to start going to the center twice a week.
Another client, Cris Nichols, has been a client at Victory Walk since last December. She injured her spine in June 2009 after falling off scaffolding at her home. She has built strength in various parts of her body, including being able to flex her abdominal muscles on her own.
Both Nichols and Wood have words of wisdom for others dealing with a spinal-cord injury.
“Never give up,” Wood said. “It would be so easy to give up but that’s no way to live.”
Nichols also advises to stay as “active as possible. Don’t give up on anything.
“Things do get better,” she continued. “It might be slowly, but things do get better.”
For more information about Victory Walk Inc., contact the Lemkes at (479) 365-2600. Victory Walk Inc. can be found online at www.victorywalkinc.com and the organization also has a new fan page on Facebook.
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