Reflecting on my CORE Center experience

“Sit tall, stand tall, walk tall.” Those were the words of Taylor Isaacs, the kinesiology professor/exercise therapist/all around SCI and body movement master who has helped a number of people achieve significant recovery from devastating injuries. I was honored to spend a few days last week at CORE Center working and learning from someone who takes a different approach to recovery than the traditional methods I’ve become accustomed to. It’s not easy to sum up Taylor’s approach but if I had to start with one word, it would be holistic.

Upon arriving to Southern California and creating an instantaneous bond with Taylor, Aaron Baker, Laquita and the CORE Center family (see my last post for a background of these amazing people), Taylor asked me questions. LOTS of questions. He wanted to know every detail about my accident, every detail of my regimen since then, my diet, my sleep patterns, my energy levels, my specific progress and how I had measured it, my psychological state, and as I conjured up the answers to the many questions, he took meticulous notes and responded in his easing South African accent, “brilliant, excellent, brilliant.”

I didn’t know what to expect from Taylor but within seconds of meeting him, I knew I could trust him, and that I would. After all, this guy was an expert among experts about how the body moves and had spent years applying his previous knowledge and varied experience with everyone from high level athletes to everyday people to those of us suffering from injuries like SCI. What I saw in Taylor and what made me so excited to work with him was an attitude of possibility and capabilityThese are words not commonly spoken to someone who has suffered a SCI; after all, we’re always being reminded of our disability and told to adapt to the circumstances, instead of trying to tackle the circumstances head on and bring about change.

The time I spent with Taylor was incredibly fruitful. After a couple days of meticulously testing different muscles and assessing my current condition, I was a bit surprised that the exercise regimen he sent me home with didn’t involve standing or leg exercises or weights or really anything complicated. It was a 20 minute daily regimen that he called Postural Reprogramming, meant to correct my posture, strengthen my abdominal and back muscles and get me sitting taller, which would lead to standing and walking taller.

Of course there are no guarantees from any therapist or practitioner and Taylor did not prognosticate anything. But what I learned from his approach was to look at the body as a whole, and understand that before I could take a step or stand up on my own, I would need to get my body into the right position for it to do what it wants to do: to move as efficiently as possible or put another way, to use the least amount of effort and energy to perform a movement. According to Taylor, “by doing this, we’re going to take those blocked neural pathways, we’re going to flood them with neural energy and turn them into neural superhighways!”

I’m including a couple of quick videos that are examples of the simple, yet challenging movements that are a part of my Postural Reprogramming regimen:

 

As I wrote about in my last post, the other main reason I was excited for this trip was to meet Aaron Baker, a true hero in my eyes and someone who consistently inspires me. I felt a kinship with Aaron the moment I met him. Of course, he has been through this injury and achieved outstanding recovery but it went beyond that. Through many hours of conversation, we were able to share our perspectives on our injuries, our lives and the world as a whole. Aaron’s mindfulness, focus and intention emanated from him and inspired me further. It was clear to me that despite his astounding recovery, this injury was still a huge part of him, and it always would be, but he had found peace, something I still have trouble doing. It was an honor to share this time with these amazing people and I’m already looking forward to my next visit to CORE Center. Until then, I’ll be reprogramming my posture…

CORE Family

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28 thoughts on “Reflecting on my CORE Center experience

  1. The videos are fascinating in the sense that we can see the point of each exercise,the staff seems very dedicated. All in all it seems you had a very positive experience! Good luck and the best of results to a full recovery to you 🙂

  2. Very inspirational, as always. Just a suggestion, have you considered taking horseback riding therapy classes? Riding requires using your core muscles a lot in order to first, stay on the horse and second, not interfeer with the horse own balance. As a plus side to it all, the activity is fun and the contact with the animal very rewarding. Horses are honest creatures, you cant lie to a horse. In the mean time, enjoy your path to recovery and keep having fun in what you do.

    1. You know, it’s funny you say that. Someone a while ago told me that horses have been used for people with this injury because their walking mimics the gait of a human walking and I’ve always been curious to look into it. I may have to check it out soon, thanks for the suggestion -AB

      1. Glad you liked the suggestion. Look for a center in your area and mostly, their crdantials. A good place would have more than good will. They should have trained personnal and good horses for the work they do. Usually, there would be 3 persons per client, one holdin the horse’s leach and one on either side of you to ensure your stability onthe special saddle they use.
        Good luck and keep up the good work.

  3. “Sit tall, stand tall, walk tall.” I’m going to use those words for my body and my soul! Thank you for sharing! I can see you sitting tall, standing tall and walking tall!

  4. Hi Arash,
    I’ve been a partial C6/C7 SCI for quite a while but I’ve never stop believing and keep on trying every single day!
    Your blog caught my eye when I came across your article on how words define people…“the power of the word”…it was nothing less then excellent!
    When you spoke about Aron Baker on your inspiration article, I immediately looked up all the links and came across Taylor and the CORE. I was amazed with what I read! You’re really blessed to be able to be were you are right now, give it your best and don’t ever give up, it will pay up!
    Was really surprised to read in this article that Taylor is from S.A.
    I’ve been living in SA for the last 38 years and haven’t yet encounter such an amazing approach as Taylor’s when it comes rehabilitation. The majority of SCI in S.A. stops rehab. once they leave the hospital. The 20 min. daily exercise routine that you were given, for Postural Reprogramming, makes a lot of sense to me, good posture is essential not only for walking but also for the overall well being.
    Was wondering how heavy is the bar you’re using for the sitting balance exercise and for how long will you be doing it before proceeding to the next step?
    I exercise daily for 90minutes daily due to a scoliosis my posture is not so good, therefore I embrace any new input to better posture.
    Please keep posting your articles and videos, you too are an inspiration and never forget that “when there’s a wheel there’s a way” 🙂
    To a awesome reprogramming…Cheers!

    1. I’m so happy you reached out! Thanks for sharing your story. Yes Taylor is a unique person, and to be honest, there are few people like him here in the US. I’m truly impressed by his approach. To answer your question, the bar I’m using is very very light but if I get stronger I may use a weighted pole (1-2 pounds at the most). I do 12 reps of each exercise as I progress through each movement. Great to hear that you’re exercising daily and if I can help in any other way, let me know. Glad to be in contact with you -AB

      1. Arash, many thanks for getting back to me about the bar exercising!
        It was great that Therese suggested the horse therapy. It will be very good for balance and your quads once your core muscles can sustain you. Another great avenue to restore movement is also hydrotherapy as inside water there’s no gravity.
        I thank you for the time spend in answering all these comments and for offering your help, bless you! The same goes for you, if you ever need any input or help you have my email.
        Look forward to your next post and keep on reprogramming!
        Take care, keep strong and believe! N

      2. Happy we could connect and share information. And yes I LOVE the water and swimming. It does feel amazing to be somewhere where gravity is not an issue at all. Best to you -AB

  5. Surrounding yourself with positive people has to be a plus in your recovery journey.

    I’ve found that the more time one spends with negative people, or people who don’t support your goals, the more chance of their attitude rubbing off on you.

    The other thing I’ve currently trying to avoid are people who constantly tell me how to live with a problem, instead of supporting my desire to find out what is causing it.

    1. Couldn’t agree with you more. I’m very careful about the kind of energy and people I surround myself with. I have no time or patience for negativity or people who won’t help me reach my goals. Keep up your attitude and surround yourself with love and positivity, that can only help shape your future. Best to you as always -AB

  6. So glad you had such a great experience. And I too agree about how important it is to surround yourself with positive people… And we often don’t even realize it until later… That’s awesome that you got to meet Aaron Baker. Shared experiences are the most powerful things in the world, I think… As always, I’m impressed, Arash. I have a lot to learn about true grit, courage, determination and just being awesome from you. Press on! -Jess

  7. I was wondering if you have any direct contact with people who experienced a spinal cord injury that are not interested in the sort of cure you seek? I also wonder if a person post SCI simply wants to get back to an active life (work, family, friends) and has no interest in cure or walking is he or she stigmatized in a rehab setting? I am taken aback at the time and effort people such as yourself devote to cure and walking. I wish you well–your goal is admirable without question. And I wonder about the economics involved. Is what you do available to a person with inadequate health insurance or someone who is economically disenfranchised?

    1. Yes I have interacted with people who are less interested in recovery. I wouldn’t call it a cure or think of it that way at all, as I don’t believe anything will be “cured” and that this will all go away. I just want to get better, much better and refuse to accept a life without that. That’s my choice but I realize it’s not the choice of many. I’m sure everyone with a SCI wants to at least get back to an active lifestyle. If they don’t want that, I’m not sure I have much in common with them and would find much common ground to connect. I don’t think anyone comes to a rehab setting if they’re not interested in getting better, and if they do, then it seems like it would be a waste of time. Thank you for your support and for reading my blog. Best to you -AB

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