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A dream to walk

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stock_empty_wheelchairBeaverton – Suffering from a spinal cord injury and becoming paralyzed is a devastating and life altering event.

Those once told they might never walk again are proving doctors wrong at a local Rehabilitation center.

Project Walk is a state of the art facility in Beaverton. Trainer J.J. Fowler opened the center in Portland in June from the company’s headquarters in Carlsbad, California. They started the new location to be closer to nine of their clients.

One of them is Kip Johnson. The Gresham teen hit a tree skiing at Mt. Hood in 2003.

Johnson and other clients run through repetitions of weight bearing exercises. Trainers say this creates a neural pattern in the brain and spinal cord, much like development a young baby makes in the first year of life.

It’s hard work, but slowly they’re making amazing gains.

“I’m starting to get feeling in my shoulders, biceps, a little bit of my wrists,” says 20 year old Travis Robinson. “The changes I’ve had while coming here that’s what keeps me coming back.”

The ultimate goal is to get clients walking again, but that progress can take years, maybe even a lifetime. But that glimmer of hope is what keeps the trainers inspired and their clients coming back.

“Things have already gotten better so I don’t know where my body will allow me to go or how long it will take or where I’ll be able to stop, but I’ll continue to come until my body stops allowing me to change,” says Robinson.

Clients from Eugene and Lebanon have also trained at Project Walk. Rehab is expensive. The average client pays $2,600 a month, a cost that isn’t typically covered by insurance.

By Dana Rebik

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