MIAMI, Fla. – It’s estimated that over five million Americans in the United States live with some form of paralysis caused by strokes, accidents or chronic diseases.
Now, a unique Miami-based program is designed to help people learn to be stronger and more functional in the face of new physical challenges.
Jose Sanchez said his life changed following a slip and fall accident in his kitchen in the summer of 2020.
“And I kind of face planted on the tile and it caused a spinal cord injury, so for almost 10 weeks I was laid out. I could not move anything,” Sanchez said.
While hospital based physical therapy helped him in many ways, he went looking for more and found I Am Able, a program started by Alfredo Igelsias after he suffered a spinal cord injury in 2008.
“I was made aware of the need for a paralysis center in Miami-Dade County that offered a transitionary program to help folks understand their new injuries and manage the new injuries,” Igelsias said.
Working in conjunction with the Miami Project To Cure Paralysis, Igelsias officially launched the program in 2014.
“There is no one place that you can find programming that can help physically, programming that can help you understand the resources in the community, and programming that can help educate or guide you through the transition, and that’s kind of our three pillars here. We provide mentorship, we provide activity-based therapy, and we help people find resources for their paralysis,” he said.
For Sanchez, the program has been a major part of moving forward from his injury.
“My progress has been phenomenal and thank God and I thank for everybody who’s been involved in it, because I’m at least able to get around,” Sanchez said.
While the program is not free, Igelsias helps those in financial need offset the cost through fundraising efforts and grants.