New Gym Aims to Give Wheelchair Users Hope

North Texas woman brings "Project Walk" to Dallas after rehab in Los Angeles.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Kendall Hall and Samantha Horn tell Kristi Nelson how "Project Walk" is helping people with spinal cord injuries.

    With the help of her trainer and a walker, Kendall Hall takes halting steps. 

    Despite the physical challenge under way, she wants other people with spinal cord injuries to experience the feelings of strength, joy and confidence that come with doing this.

    "I don't think anyone can really understand spinal cord injuries until someone in your family has it," Hall said. "You can hear about it, you can see someone go by in a wheelchair, but really you can't know until you live it." 

    Hall just opened Project Walk Dallas. It is a workout based spinal cord injury recovery center, which supporters say goes beyond traditional rehabilitation.

    "It's basically a gym with highly trained specialists who focus solely on individuals with spinal cord injuries.. and work to regain movement below your level of injury," Hall said.

    Hall was 29-years-old when on October 31, 2009, she was in a car accident in Dallas. She was paralyzed from the shoulders down.

    Video clips Hall posted on You Tube document her progress at Project Walk in California. She said her decision to go there put her life back on track.

    "In rehab, they really work on rehabilitating you so you can carry on in life," Hall said. "And they really focus on areas where you already have that function and they work to teach you how to work with that function so you can carry on."

    "Whereas with Project Walk, we take a full body approach and we get you out of your wheelchair. And we do work on the areas where you have function, but we also focus a lot on the areas where you don't."

    Hall decided to bring the concept back to Dallas. The Project Walk program is not covered by insurance. So to come here, families must raise money or pay their own way.

    Samantha Horn said the expense has been worth it.

    "It gives you the hope to stand and hope to walk and just the confidence," Horn said. "I've said it many times, the confidence... independence..."

    Horn enjoyed soccer and other sports before a diving accident at her college apartment complex.  She hopes to stand on her own again someday.

    "Before when I started at Project Walk Austin, I wasn't driving," Horn said. "A year later, I'm driving and I'm stronger than I was. I've gained muscle tone in my back and I'm starting to regain my triceps and stuff like that."

    There have been critics of Project Walk who worry it gives people with spinal cord injuries false hope about someday walking again. But these women say hope is never a bad thing.

    "I can understand how our name having the word walk in it can throw people for a loop," Hall said. "All we're doing is filling another role in the SCI community. We're just giving our clients another opportunity that didn't exist."

    "We're in here just working with their bodies in a new way. If they supplement that with their outpatient and their water therapy and alternative therapies, they're only going to get better."