By: 30 October 2018
Redefining possibilities for children with paralysis

In April this year, Neurokinex – the first and only international Community Fitness and Wellness Affiliate of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) – opened the Neurokinex Kids facility

The new centre offers ground-breaking treatments for children living with paralysis and its dedicated and pioneering paediatric programme aims to get kids back to doing what they do best – having fun and exploring the world.

Based near Gatwick for ease of access to families in the UK and Europe, Neurokinex Kids’ rehabilitation therapies apply the latest scientific findings on the remarkable plasticity of the brain and spinal cord, as well as the benefits of activity-based interventions to achieve greater motor and autonomic recoveries.

Neurokinex Kids is a world-class facility specifically created to excite and inspire youngsters in an environment that is designed to be friendly, colourful and fun. Packed with paediatric-sized equipment, tailored to suit their size, the children are quick to engage in the activities. The children absolutely love it – while they have fun and play, each move delivers a calculated, rehabilitation outcome.


Providing hope to children living with paralysis

The younger the child is at the time of a spinal cord injury, the more likely they are to experience long-term health issues such as bone disorders (stunted growth, osteoporosis, scoliosis and joint malformation), muscle contractures, significant loss of muscle bulk, respiratory and circulation problems and bowel and bladder dysfunction. Fortunately, children have greater neuroplasticity than adults, making them even more receptive to activity-based rehabilitation interventions.

The Neurokinex Kids programme offers activity-based rehab interventions that result in a multitude of benefits addressing the common paediatric health issues, including improved muscle function and quality, skin health, bone health, growth and range of motion. A variety of paediatric equipment has been installed at Neurokinex Kids to stimulate exploratory play which, in turn, builds their strength, range of motion and co-ordination.

“We had a dedicated softplay area created by SouthPaw. We worked in partnership with them to develop an area that is really fun but also challenging enough for the kids to explore and develop their muscles,” says Marilla Cameron, Neurorehabilitation Specialist at Neurokinex. “We also use a unique piece of equipment called a Lite gait which we use for over ground work and low bearing exercise as well as a platform swing and log swing. The swings are great for building up a child’s core strength and balance in a fun and interactive way. The idea was to create a multifunctional space that kids will want to have in.”


Blessing from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

Originally conceived by the late Christopher Reeve, the NRN moves science into clinical practice by developing and providing activity-based therapies that promote functional recovery and improve the health and overall quality of life for people living with paralysis.

Matthew Reeve, Christopher Reeve’s elder son and Vice Chairman of International Development for the Reeve Foundation, was the guest of honour at the opening of Neurokinex Kids. Fully recognising the facility is continuing to drive his father’s mission forward, he is greatly encouraged to see the UK following the US’ lead where currently two NRN paediatric facilities are open.

“Since its inception, the goal of the NeuroRecovery Network has always been to develop cutting-edge treatments so that individuals living with paralysis could recover functions once thought to be lost,” says Matthew. “Our partnership with Neurokinex is the Reeve Foundation’s first endeavour to establish a global network of rehabilitation facilities united under a common protocol. Every NRN participant has experienced significant improvements ranging from enhanced physical health and quality of life to standing and even stepping. We look forward to hearing more success stories from this Gatwick facility and we’re confident that more and more people living with paralysis will continue to benefit from the NRN’s approach to improved care, recovery, and rehabilitation.”


‘Reclaiming their childhood’

“Through the application of activity-based therapies, children are regaining functions once thought to be lost,” continues Matthew. “These recoveries range from improved health and quality of life to standing and even stepping. Most importantly, these kids are reclaiming their childhood. Being able to go on the swings, ride a bike or enjoy a trip with family and friends is critical to living a full and active life as a child. We know that an assertive approach to rehabilitation can have a life-changing impact on both adults and children living with paralysis.

“We have ambitions for the other Neurokinex facilities in the UK to become affiliated with us and as its network grows, we hope to grow with them. We hope other facilities in England can come under the umbrella of the NRN and we are also exploring potential centres in other countries that might be able to be a part of it. Our ultimate goal is to have as wide a network as possible with as wide a reach as possible,” he says.


Looking to the future

Since officially launching, the facility now has six regular clients aged from eight months old right the way up to 16 years old.

“The response we’ve had since opening has been fantastic,” says Marilla. “We’re receiving lots of enquiries and have also just received our first international enquiry. We are currently in the process of developing an intensive programme which will combine our paediatric programs along with the NRN protocols that we hope to launch very soon.”