One of the nation’s leading rehabilitation hospitals for spinal cord injury, the Shepherd Center, launched a pilot for a mobile fitness app on Feb. 8 aimed specifically at wheelchair users and those with spinal cord injuries. The app, dubbed SCI-Ex, features exercise recommendations and video demonstrations, videos of how to transfer onto machines and how to using gripping aids, all broken down based on level of injury.
Anyone who has tried to search for adaptive fitness information online knows how difficult it can be to find specific, coherent information to help develop a fitness routine. “We heard from wheelchair users, Shepherd staff and YMCA staff that there are little to no useful videos/information about how to help someone with mobility impairments (specifically SCI) in a gym. There were no resources out there,” says Shari McDowell, the program director for Shepherd Center’s SCI Program.
So they decided to do something about it. The SCI-Ex pilot is the first step in creating a centralized, informative resource to help wheelchair-users, training professionals, and caregivers learn adaptive fitness techniques.
“The app includes exercises for the entire body, but can also be broken down based on specific muscle groups, types of exercises, and based on a user’s functional ability and level of assistance required to perform the movements,” says Brandon Clift, a lead exercise specialist at Shepherd Center.
At first look, SCI-Ex is easy to navigate and use. Training recommendations for frequency, intensity, and duration are included alongside individual exercise demonstrations, and users can save specific exercises to create a personalized routine.
While the number of exercises currently available on the app is fairly limited, Shepherd Center is soliciting user feedback, and says that they plan to expand the app’s content in future versions once they secure funding. McDowell stresses that they want to obtain as much feedback as possible so they can make modifications to future content if necessary.
Even with limited initial content, SCI-Ex already seems far ahead of any other online fitness resource for people with spinal cord injuries. If you’re looking for help on how to workout from a wheelchair, SCI-Ex is a good place to start.
The app is available for free on both the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores, and can be accessed by searching “Shepherd Center.” Here is a sample video: