Exercisabilities is an activity-based therapy center based in Rochester, Minnesota that is dedicated to helping “people of all ages with neurologic or medical conditions that [affected] their physical, cognitive, or social well-being in SouthEast MN.” The 501(c)(3) nonprofit was founded by Dr. Melanie Brennan, a physical therapist who worked at the Mayo Clinic for 11 years in acute rehabilitation.
Over the years, Exercisabilities has helped many who live with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. One of the many people that Dr. Brennan has helped is Carissa Bennett, a woman who suffered a T4 incomplete injury in a motorcycle accident.
Here’s Carissa’s story:
“My name is Carissa Bennett and I live outside of Rochester, MN in a small town of about 4,000 people. On August 1, 2015 my life as I knew it changed forever. A group of us were taking a motorcycle trip that we had been planning since the beginning of the year. A week on the road visiting Sturgis, South Dakota for the 75th Motorcycle Rally and Yellowstone Park in Wyoming.
On the 3rd day of our trip as we were heading back to our campground for the afternoon a pickup truck pulled out in front of us as we were traveling down a major highway going 60 mph. With no time to react my husband laid the bike down on its side. By doing this he saved both of our lives even though they will no longer be the same. He sustained a TBI which he has recovered remarkably from. I sustained a T4 incomplete spinal cord injury.
I spent the next 4 ½ months at 2 different rehab centers learning how to do as much for myself as I could at the time. I was still very weak and would fatigue easily. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do once I went home but I knew I needed to continue to be as active as possible in order to maximize my recovery process.
That’s when I was introduced to Exercisabilities in Rochester, MN. They are a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people achieve their goals through physical rehabilitation and exercise based activities. They offer a program specifically for people that have suffered an SCI and that’s exactly what I signed up for. I continue to work out at Exercisabilities 3 times a week for 3 hours a time.
I have regained muscle mass back into my legs and have built up my upper body strength. My energy levels have increased. We work on my posture and standing balance which has helped relieve a lot of my back and shoulder pain. I no longer sit in my wheelchair all hunched over. My muscle spasms are tolerable from the activity and my skin has remained healthy.
I have been able to keep myself off all medications (except for a bladder med). Recently I have started walking short distances with leg braces, a walker, and some assistance. We continue to work on functional recovery and I hope to someday be able to stand on my own and to eventually walk again. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for Exercisabilities and the friendships I’ve formed there. I’m more active in my daily life, physically and socially. They have helped me become myself again and I’m excited for what my future holds.”
You can learn more about Exercisabilities and how it helps people like Carissa today!
For more information about coping with spinal cord injury and support, please check out the Spinalcord.com community page.