SLI’s Neuro-Fit Assisted Exercise program is a cornerstone of SLI’s approach to neuro-wellness. Cardio workouts and strength building exercises benefit brain injury survivors in many ways – even beyond the positive effects of increased motion, strength, and stamina. A stronger body leads to many additional cognitive benefits, from boosted confidence, developing self-efficacy, and an increased sense of accomplishment. Participants don’t just exercise, they socialize too. We organize classes to stimulate conversation, develop group comradery, avoid isolation, and most of all – have fun!
The coronavirus pandemic put an abrupt end to SLI’s spring Neuro-Fit program. We closed all our sites and programs immediately. We watched and worried as class members lost strength and flexibility, missed the social environment, felt isolated and less independent.
Through careful planning, strict adherence to state and local guidelines, PPE, and social distancing, we are slowly able to re-start the Neuro-Fit program. They take a much different form now. We ‘bring the gym’ to attendees, wear PPE, and practice social distancing, while utilizing scrupulous equipment and physical space cleaning regimens. But we still have fun! We are consistently fortunate to recruit a group of dedicated and passionate interns to assist with operating the Neuro-Fit classes, and this summer’s intern class is no exception. They have embraced the adapted Neuro-Fit program, are enhancing the lives of class attendees, and gaining valuable knowledge that they will apply to their future careers.
“The amount of enjoyment and gratification I get from working with the residents at SLI is beyond anything I could have imagined,” says Danielle, one of this summer’s interns. “I get disappointed if a resident can’t make it to fitness that day because I love catching up with them during our sessions. Even with the masks on, I know that their smiles are as big as mine when I crack a half decent joke.”
Class attendees are seeing the benefits of the new summer program as well. “I’ve learned that the residents want to be pushed,” continues Danielle. “They ask for more resistance, tighter bands, and more difficult exercises. They understand they might be limited physically, but they are also eager to strengthen the areas in which they are weak.”
We are starting slow and cautiously, but the Neuro-Fit Assisted Exercise classes are back and ready for fall!