Helping Clients with Spinal Cord Injuries Move Beyond Paralysis

Q&A with CORE Florida

We recently had the opportunity to chat with Riley Greer, Neuro-Exercise Specialist at the Center of Recovery and Exercise (CORE), located north of Orlando, Florida. CORE is doing some amazing things – working to optimize the function, health, and independence of clients with spinal cord injuries and other neurological conditions. Their activity based neurorecovery program includes aquatic therapy with their SwimEx Triton pool.

SwimEx: Would you share a little bit of the history of CORE?

Riley: Sure, CORE was founded back in 2011 by Matthew Davies and his wife, Melodie. Matthew is a C5/C6 quadriplegic, and after his own experience with various therapies, he and Melodie decided to open an activity-based training facility here in Florida. Matt remains very active here at CORE, including doing his aquatic training here every Friday.

SwimEx: And what type of clients are you typically working with?

Riley: Clients with spinal cord injuries, stroke patients, cerebral palsy, and clients with Parkinson’s disease are probably the most common, but we work with a variety of clients including those with traumatic brain injuries, transfer myelitis, amputees, and MS clients. We have clients across all age groups – older clients and clients as young as 8 months old.

SwimEx: How are you using the SwimEx pool?

Riley: Clients like to add aquatics into their program, typically either once a week or every other week. It complements what they are doing on land. Each therapy protocol is a bit different, but we’ll often use the underwater treadmill, the water current and the stairs to create a challenge. The room is warm, we typically keep the pool at around 92 degrees, and all of this helps improve blood flow. We might be working on balance and coordination, gait training, so even just walking across the pool helps. It’s very convenient to have the seats in the back. And some of our younger clients love the bubbles from the jets in the seats while taking a break. We have a lift for clients that need it, and a changing table that folds down so it’s easy for everyone.

It’s great because the water gives my clients a safe environment where they can push themselves mentally. The pool takes away their fear of falling.

SwimEx: Tell a little more about some of your clients.

Riley: There are so many great stories, really. One client with cerebral palsy, Ian, was very timid around water. We were able to get him comfortable in the pool here. And now he’s jumping into the pool, feeling more confident, and his mom is so happy, she can relax more during family time at their pool at home.

Another client, Annette, has been working hard in both the gym and in her aquatic sessions. The benefits of the warm temperature and hydrostatic pressure have helped her rehabilitation.

neuro recovery for patients with spinal cord injuries using aquatic therapy

Phil is another client with cerebral palsy. He was interested in learning to use a boogie board. We got him in the pool and it was amazing to see his face light up when he started using the boogie board for the first time (see video).

We also have a baby with a gene deficiency similar to CP and we have worked on kicking and improving strength in the pool. The family sought us out specifically for the pool.

SwimEx: How did you get started at CORE?

Riley: I started as an intern back in 2018, and then was hired as a neuro-exercise specialist. I found them on social media. My mother is quadriplegic. I’ve always had a passion for the water – I’m scuba dive certified, so I love getting clients in the pool. We have local clients, but we also have some clients who have moved their entire family to this area so they can use this facility. We are a private facility, so Matthew established the CORE Foundation to provide financial support to families that need it.

It’s a great place. As we like to say, we’re getting people moving beyond paralysis.

A special thanks to Riley for taking the time to talk with us.

~ Authored by Kristine Chochrek

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