We put the FUN in FUNctional

After an event such as a stroke, spinal cord injury, or brain injury, arm and hand function can become impaired. There are many tools available for therapists to use in order to help their clients improve function. One of the tools we use at Aim2Walk is the ArmeoSpring.

The ArmeoSpring is a device with a spring loaded arm that uses the available arm function of the user to improve the neuromuscular control of the affected shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand. The exoskeleton arm counterbalances the weight of the user’s arm to enhance function and control. Movement needs to be initiated by the user, which will help improve both physical and cognitive recovery. The user performs task-specific functions through a variety of games on the 3D workspace. Some of the functions the games focus on are shoulder range of motion through reaching and retrieving, flexion and extension of the elbow, pronation and supination of the forearm, flicking of the wrist, and gripping. The ArmeoSpring also provides assessment tools to monitor progress in motor ability and coordination. There are built in sensors which record the user’s movement at the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand during each session.

One of our clients, Mike, uses the ArmeoSpring approximately four times a week during his sessions. Mike suffered a stroke as a complication from surgery two years ago, which in turn resulted in a spinal cord injury and reduced function in his left arm and hand. Back in Mike’s glory days he was an avid duck hunter, so naturally one of his favourite games on the ArmeoSpring is the chicken shooting game, and he has been consistently setting and beating his own records. He was kind enough to help us demonstrate a few of the task-specific games the ArmeoSpring offers in the video below.



Lindsay Simpson

Lindsay is a student intern at Aim2Walk and she is our guest writer today. She studies Exercise Science and Lifestyle Management at Humber College. Thank you Lindsay for your time at the clinic and for sharing your knowledge of the ArmeoSpring. Best of luck in your future!

To Be Or Not Be… Gluten Free!

Have you joined the recent gluten-free train by avoiding all foods with gluten? Consumers are finding this “fad diet” to be quite expensive, while food industries are reaping the benefits. What if it’s all a sham?

Apart from celiac disease where one must eliminate gluten due to an allergy, many research studies have also found that eliminating gluten from one’s diet helps decrease symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease. Multiple sources also claim that eliminating gluten leads to weight loss. Whether it’s the elimination of gluten that is causing these effects or the unhealthy additives found in regular gluten filled products, requires some “food for thought.”

A recent article based on a study conducted by Peter Gibson of Monash University, suggests that the gluten-free idea is all in our heads. His 2011 study indicated that eliminating gluten from the diet did decrease stomach pain, bloating and fatigue. In a follow-up study, Gibson examined dietary irritants which could alter his initial study. He recorded the effect of high gluten, low gluten and placebo foods for one week each and found that all studies resulted in increased symptoms of gas, bloating and pain.

I am not a researcher, or scientist, but I do a lot of independent research on nutritional health and I have discussed with many people their personal story with digestive issues and links to food. I was pleased to see that Gibson decided to retest his original theory by examining the gluten-free theory closer; however, my concern with his study is that the trial cases were conducted for only one week for each idea. Through many teaching moments with clients and professionals and my own personal trials, I believe it takes at least 2 weeks to eliminate foods such as gluten from our bodies. Furthermore, during the elimination process, our bodies will often experience an increase in original symptoms, which would indicate a reason for the increase in pain, bloating and gas found in Gibson’s study.

Other researchers indicate that it is beneficial to be gluten-free with an added twist. Dr. William Davis who wrote “Wheat Belly” studied not only gluten-free products but all grains. Davis states that all grains affect our insulin levels which creates stress and inflammation in our bodies. Dr. Terry Wahls agrees that not only gluten-free but grain-free diets should be conducted to see best results in digestive symptoms. Dr. Wahls also claims she has reversed the symptoms of her own multiple sclerosis by eliminating grains, as well as sugar and dairy.

So, what is the answer, gluten-free or not? I strongly suggest anyone with digestive issues to seek guidance from a naturopathic professional. They can assist in testing for allergies and/or sensitivities to certain foods. Otherwise, the obvious would be to eat as clean as possible, with real foods and no processed and genetically modified (GMO) foods. If you find eliminating gluten or grains helps, then continue with that. We are all unique people with unique bodies and if eliminating (or consuming) gluten makes you feel good, that‘s what truly matters, regardless of the latest diet craze.

I recently stumbled across this hilarious skit from Jimmy Kimmel, it helps me remember, always do your research so you can be informed with the decisions you make, especially when it has to do with what you put into your own body.

Michelle Wolfe, RMT

The Masterpiece

Benjamin Sloetjes was like any normal 18 year old. He was athletic, fun-loving and full of life and potential.

On September 19, 2002, the car he was working under, slipped and fell, crushing him and leaving his brain unable to receive oxygen for twenty minutes. The prognosis was not good. He was in a coma, on life support and doctors were certain that if he were to live, he would be blind and unable to communicate.

Miraculously, he pulled through and after seven months, he came home. Due to the brain injury his journey led him to received many years of intense therapy to improve his walking and balance, speech pathology, cognitive and fine motor skills. Benjamin is now creating art to encompass all of these therapies.

Benjamin’s art is very unique! He creates greeting art cards as well as paintings in a variety of sizes. His art-work has become very therapeutic and it gives him a sense of purpose in his life. Although his journey has drastically changed it’s course since his accident, he has chose to find an outlet to help him stay positive.


You to can have a piece of Benjamin’s art. Visit www.bensloetjes.com and you can pick the colors you’d like for him to create a masterpiece of your own.

Michelle Wolfe