What happens when the hospitalization and the rehabilitation clinic come to an end? This is the crucial moment when the Swiss Recovery Center comes into play. There are 200 new cases of paralysis reported in Switzerland each year. After a spinal cord injury, the patient undergoes an important rehabilitation program, done in a specialized clinic, to get used to his or her new living condition. This standard rehabilitation program lasts 6 to 12 months and is primarily focused on learning how to live in a wheelchair and recovering muscles in non-paralyzed limbs. Once this phase is completed, the patient generally receives medical assistance in his or her home. Unfortunately, this in-home care does not include sufficient physical activity. Living with a spinal cord injury means sitting in a wheelchair for 15 hours a day on average with extremely limited mobility. This nearly constant state of immobility diminishes the person’s remaining physical capacities and exacerbates the side effects of the injury (urinary tract infections, bedsores, organ complications, circulatory problems, etc.). So, after the end of the rehabilitation program, this is when the Swiss Recovery Center steps in to ensure a sufficient amount of physical activity and promote daily autonomy.
In French, SPRALT stands for “suivi post-réhabilitation à long terme”, or long-term post-rehabilitation monitoring. It involves reinvigorating the entire body, including the paralyzed limbs, in order to ensure enough activity to stimulate the various functions of the body and reduce side effects. The physical inactivity that comes with constantly sitting in a wheelchair exacerbates other health complications. Recent studies* have shown that people with a spinal cord injury can greatly improve their quality of life by increasing their weekly training regimen over the long term.
*According to a recent study by Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) on people with spinal cord injuries, a minimum of 20 minutes of physical activity twice a week is necessary to avoid extreme sedentariness. However, to be healthy, a person needs 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. When it comes to determining the activity level of participants (beginner, intermediate, advanced), the rule of thumb is that a beginner (i.e. someone without any physical activity outside the training sessions) needs to reach a minimum of 150 minutes/week.
- Health problems
- Risk of bed sores
- Social isolation
- Sensitivity and motor skills
- Central nervous system activity
- Daily independence
- Strength and muscle mass
- Bone density
- Control of existing range of motion
- Respiratory system
- Quality of life
What does the SRC offer?
- Training adapted to the needs of each participant
- Two trainers to support the safety of each participant
- Up to three consecutive hours of training (including warm-up, cool-down and discussion)
- Sessions two to three times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays)
- Mobilization of the entire body and stimulation of the central nervous system
- Personalized recommendations for exercises to do at home
Where is it?
- Located in a 100m2 training facility
- Route de Chavalon 78C, 1844 Villeneuve (VD)
Who are the participants?
- Seven people with various types of spinal injuries, all of whom use a wheelchair
Who are the trainers?
- Ten professional trainers and five interns in the field of adapted physical activity (APA), all volunteers, in partnership with the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne
What kind of equipment is used?
The SRC has all of the necessary training equipment for people with spinal cord injuries:
Work tables – Standing treadmills – Walkers – Parallel bars – Giger – GBY (Go By Yourself) - etc.
If you are interested in joining us at the SRC, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free trial session at our facility.
If you are satisfied with your trial session and would like to continue, we offer two training subscriptions:
- 2 sessions per week
- 3 sessions per week
(Training sessions are not covered by insurance at this time)
The Swiss Recovery Center Foundation was founded by Yves Vionnet in 2012 as a non-profit, tax-exempt foundation. The Foundation’s role is to financially support the activities of the current center and continue developing it in the future. The SRC aims to provide people who have had a spinal cord injury with the benefits of adapted physical activity. The Swiss Recovery Center in Villeneuve (VD) was opened in 2017 and has been offering its participants real health benefits and an improved quality of life ever since. The Foundation’s Board consists of six volunteer members: The Foundation has an auditor and is supervised by the AS-SO foundation supervisory authority.
On April 10, 2004, Yves was in a snowboarding accident that left him quadriplegic. After being hospitalized at the CHUV (Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois), he underwent the traditional seven-month rehabilitation program at the Swiss Paraplegic Centre in Nottwil (LU). He quickly realized that this rehabilitation program was just the first step in his recovery and that he needed a long-term solution to maintain and improve his quality of life.
Once he was discharged from the hospital, Yves began his long journey towards the recovery of certain motor functions and a better life. He travelled to numerous countries to undergo various types of therapy and in 2008, he landed in Detroit, Michigan, where he spent six months at a recovery center specialized in spinal cord injuries. It was there that he first regained the use of certain muscles he had lost.
Thanks to the unique method used at this center, Yves recovered functions he never expected to regain and experienced many other positive changes, including less need for medication and increased mobility in his upper limbs.
Upon his return to Switzerland, Yves hired several students to help him continue a training program inspired by what he had learned in the United States. He hosted seminars and offered annual internships with the aim of introducing these students to this innovative methodology.
He soon had the opportunity to support other people with spinal cord injuries by helping them develop their own adapted training sessions. Since not everyone had enough space or the necessary equipment at their disposal, he came up with the idea to develop a center.
Thanks to his time at the Detroit recovery center and the support of his family, Yves now lives independently. He is able to travel internationally, drive an adapted automobile, play a lap steel guitar, and enjoy sporting activities (diving, mountain biking, etc.) and plays lap steel guitar—these activities say a lot about the functions he has recovered.
Why travel all the way to the United States in a wheelchair in the hope of finding a better quality of life?
The Swiss Recovery Center
The success of the Swiss Recovery Center’s first year is undeniable: by the end of the 2017, the number of participants had risen from four to six, and all participants are thrilled with the adapted physical training program they’ve received thus far. They have experienced both physical and psychological benefits and noticed many positive changes in their daily lives. If finances permit, these people will be able to continue training at the Villeneuve center in 2019 with the support of a loyal team of coaches who have been with the center since the beginning. This close-knit, experienced team knows how to respond to these participants’ needs and remains convinced of the program’s relevance and future.
Our challenge for this new year of operation is clear:
- Prepare to develop a more spacious center in 2020 by bringing together a wide variety of skills
- Better integrate our scientific collaborations, both now and in the future, so we can conduct further research on the promotion of movement and physical activity for people with spinal cord injuries
To achieve these goals, it is time to spread the word about the Swiss Recovery Center and reach out for sustainable and stable support to help it grow. Given the limitations of our current resources (size of the premises, available equipment and human resources) and our minimal budget, we are in a somewhat precarious position. Fundraising remains a constant priority so the Swiss Recovery Center can continue to support its participants and offer them the best resources available. Without these funds, our participants and their families risk losing the hope that an adapted training program can offer.
The current dispersion and lack of coordination of spinal cord research projects around the world have makes them fragile and difficult to sustain. Therefore, one of our main objectives is to bring researchers and paralyzed people together under one roof. To this end, we aim to create a spinal cord injury research department, which will be organized and supervised by a scientific committee, as an integral part of our final project: the Swiss Recovery Center.
This department will coordinate promising international research programs, develop studies on the various aspects of recovery, carry out ad hoc client assessments and continue to adapt our methodology as new discoveries are made.
At present, researchers rarely have access to people who can benefit from adapted training regimes. Thus, the Swiss Recovery Center will serve as a dynamic laboratory, allowing scientists to access new data in real time and observe the results obtained by program participants.
The Swiss Recovery Center aims to be the first institution to combine adapted physical activity methodologies with a research center, thereby allowing for centralized collaboration with the aim of providing a universal solution and support.
Swiss Recovery Center
Route de Chavalon 78C
1844 Villeneuve VD