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Spinal Injury Studies - Aaron Baker

On June 12, 2000, a 21 year-old incomplete quadriplegic with a C4-5-6 lesion and central cord compression syndrome, 13 months post-injury, wheeled into my office, flashed a winning smile and said, “ Hi, I’m Aaron Baker, #249 former professional motocross racer. I am here to rehabilitate my tattered body.” Instantly, I knew my life was about to be forever changed as the rehabilitation of an incomplete quadriplegic would require the use of every bit of knowledge that I have acquired on the incredible journey called education.

With Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), the exact extent of dysfunction may not be known for several years post-injury, as dramatic returns of function have occurred with the diminution of swelling to the spinal cord. The outlook for recovery depends on the skills of the rehabilitation team and the available means to the SCI individual in order for the person to achieve the best outcome possible — attaining independence and offsetting the potentially life-threatening secondary complications of spinal cord injury.

To attain the best return of function possible, Aaron Baker engages in a comprehensive exercise training and nutrition program consisting of aerobic conditioning, muscular strength and endurance training, range of motion, balance training, gait training, active flexibility and posture/strength corrective exercise, and functional activity training.

The success of Aaron’s program is due to a combination of medical science, university research, and most important of all, human determination. From the moment that I met Aaron, I could tell that he was an extraordinarily motivated person. This observation prompted me to share my philosophy of him providing the motivation, me providing the education and together seeing the results. This presentation will highlight Aaron’s physiological milestones and psychosocial issues experienced as a result of exercise, that have allowed him to improve his function, independence, and self-efficacy.


  1. Integrate an exercise program into your client’s training schedule, ensuring safe, effective and efficient exercise and performance progression.
  2. Discuss the importance of using the Karvonen formula instead of the standard 220 – age * relative intensity to determine the client’s target heart rate zone.
  3. Identify the importance of using the SAID principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands) when designing an exercise program.
  4. Specify the elements of thephysical activity program for individuals with neuromuscular disorders.
  5. Recognize how exercise for an individual with a neuromuscular disorder is highly personalized and prescriptive.
  6. List the benefits of passive static standing.
  7. Cite client information to obtain from the medical professional.
  8. Explain the vicious cycle of disability.
  9. Understand the importance of abiding by the special instructions in order to decrease the client’s internal core temperature to avoid overheating.

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