Craig Hospital — An Introduction to the PEAK Center at Craig and Therapeutic Recreation

The PEAK Center at Craig

The PEAK Center at Craig

The PEAK (Performance, Exercise, Attitude and Knowledge) Center at Craig Hospital is an adaptive health and wellness center that empowers individuals with neurologic disabilities to optimize their recovery and pursue lifelong wellness goals.

The Need

Staying healthy tests the resolve and resources of all of us; for those living with neurologic disorders, the challenges are compounded. Most community-based fitness or wellness centers have little or no adaptive equipment. Their trainers don’t have specialized training or expertise to support this population

The Opportunity

The PEAK Center fills this gap in a powerful way. The PEAK Center’s expert staff offers customized services to individuals with neurologic disabilities using research-based practices and cutting edge technology in a motivating environment. Services encompass:

  • Wellness Membership: Access to our fully adapted fitness center with knowledgeable staff who design and provide guidance for client-specific fitness programs.
  • Activity-Based Personal Training: One-on-one personal training and performance monitoring to support a client’s goals.
  • FES Bikes: Functional electrical stimulation cycling using electrical current to stimulate weak or paralyzed muscles.
  • Aquatic Therapy: Individual pool therapy with trained specialists creating challenging and customized exercise programs.
  • Group Exercise: Offerings include adaptive yoga, aquatic classes, adaptive team sport practices, and upper extremity Krank Cycle classes.

The Equipment

Operating from a new, expanded site on the Craig campus, PEAK offers state-of-the-art equipment, including:

  • The Ekso, a mobile exoskeleton that can assist individuals who have complete lower extremity and trunk paralysis to stand and walk over ground.
  • The ZeroG, which provides an overhead support system enabling clients with various levels of gait impairments to stand and safely attain challenging positions that maximize opportunities for strengthening and regaining walking function.
  • The Indego Exoskeleton, a power lower limb orthosis that allows people with impaired mobility to stand and walk.
  • The Lokomat, a robotic locomotor training system that uses a bodyweight-supported harness system over a treadmill so that individuals with very little leg movement can achieve a walking pattern.
  • The Whole-body Advanced Vibration Exercise (WAVE), which increases muscle activation by stimulating the tonic vibratory reflex to improve strength and function of the limbs and trunk.
  • The RT600 FES Elliptical Trainer, which supports clients with impaired lower extremity movement in an upright position to perform active movement. The trainer stimulates up to 10 muscle groups and helps decrease muscle atrophy while increasing muscle activity in lower extremities.
“Throughout the week I attend daily sessions with the PEAK’s knowledgeable, caring and patient staff. The attention to their clients is case specific, detail oriented and progress driven. The memories and relationships that I continue to gain are concrete and lifelong. They mean the world to me.” Inpatient Spinal Cord Injury Patient

​The Results

This is a hopeful time in the field of neurologic rehabilitation and research underscores the benefits of exercise in terms of recovery, health and fitness. For those living with SCI, the potential benefits of movement and exercise include weight control, bowel/bladder management, prevention of skin breakdown, cardiovascular health, diabetes prevention, and maintenance of healthy breathing. Research suggests that those living with TBI who exercise regularly experience fewer physical, emotional and cognitive symptoms, such as sleep problems, irritability, memory and disorganization.

In FY 2016, PEAK served 190 general gym members and 271 personal training clients (gym members may also be personal training clients). With support from generous donors, Craig Hospital provided 194 three-month PEAK Center scholarships to 128 outpatients and community members who needed financial assistance to access PEAK. These scholarship recipients ranged in age from 16 to 71.

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PEAK is possible because of generous supporters. The equipment for PEAK is expensive and funding is always needed to replace pieces of equipment and add the newest available technology to assist those with neurologic issues such as spinal cord and brain injuries, strokes, ALS, Parkinson’s and MS. Financial support is also required for PEAK Scholarships to help cover the costs of gym memberships for those who cannot afford to pay for the gym membership, despite the competitively-priced six months membership fee of $165.

Your support for the PEAK Center empowers Craig patients and others in the community living with neurologic disorders to work toward and maintain health and wellness goals that translate to independence and life quality.

“Working out in the new PEAK Center has changed my life. Because of the equipment, the volunteers and the trainers, I’ve been able to lose weight and transition from a power chair into a manual chair. The way the new PEAK Center is set up, it has a wonderful, positive energy. There are lots of gyms out there, but there is no place like the PEAK. I’m so grateful to donors for making it happen.” Ben Hernandez, Craig graduate and PEAK Center client

Therapeutic Recreation

Therapeutic Recreation

Craig Hospital’s Therapeutic Recreation program (T-Rec) sets the standard for hospital rehabilitation recreation programs in the nation. Our certified Therapeutic Recreation specialists introduce or re-expose patients to sports, recreation or leisure time interests to advance individual treatment and rehabilitation goals.

Leisure-time activities shape our identities, give life fullness, and promote physical and mental health. As Craig patients and their families take up these pursuits, they re-engage in life.

The Therapeutic Recreation Program at Craig promotes overall fitness and well-being, with the goal of improving, maintaining or restoring physical strength, cognition, and mobility for someone with a nervous system injury through recreational activity.

The Need

Ongoing research and over 40 years of experience at Craig Hospital demonstrate that therapeutic recreation helps many patients make dramatic improvements in their overall functioning. When patients take part in recreation activities they are doing more than having fun – they’re assimilating and practicing in real life settings the skills they are learning in therapy.

But having fun is also the point. T-rec activities provide an essential counterweight to the hard work and serious decisions that fill patients’ days at Craig. The exhilaration of a new experience outside the hospital – at a sporting event, on a mountain top or at the bottom of the sea – opens possibilities in other areas of life.

Because the costs of therapeutic recreation services are not covered by conventional insurance, the T-Rec program exists only through the commitment of Craig Hospital and the generosity of community partners, who contribute toward a total program cost of approximately $1M annually. In FY 2016, the program served 1179 Craig patients as well as family members and graduates. This is a nearly 40 percent increase from the previous year.

The Opportunity

Like Craig Hospital’s comprehensive approach to rehabilitation, T-Rec services are both individualized and rooted in community. T-Rec specialists first learn about each patient’s recreational interests and goals. Then, they work with individual patients and groups of patients to identify potential recreational resources and craft offerings that advance patients’ skill development and successful reintegration. Because of their integral role in rehabilitation, families join in as well.

As patients learn how to take up their favorite activities, they also learn how to adapt equipment to meet new physical or cognitive needs. T-Rec activities incorporate key therapeutic elements acquired from other disciplines (such as sip and puff technology) and tailor equipment adaptations to meet individual needs.

T-Rec’s range of rewarding recreational experiences offers something for everyone. Most T-Rec experiences are shared, enabling new patients to encourage one another and to learn from those who are already living a similar life.

At Craig, rehabilitation is more than just getting up and learning to get dressed and move in a chair. To the staff at Craig, that does not equate to a full life. We are helping people return to the passions that define them or helping them discover new ways to enjoy their lives. Tom Carr, director of Therapeutic Recreation

Discover Rafting and Camping with Therapeutic Recreation

The Therapeutic Recreation Adventure Program at Craig Hospital recently had the opportunity to take a group of outpatients on an overnight camping and rafting excursion near Cotopaxi, CO. “Camping to me is a beautiful way to get people together and explore the outdoors and the lifestyle that we have in Colorado too,” says Therapeutic Recreation Specialist Joan Danks, as she describes the importance of these trips for patients at Craig Hospital.


The Results

Stewart Lundy was 14 when he was injured in a diving accident in 1982. He was introduced to the Therapeutic Recreation department when he came to Craig for an evaluation in 1997. Since then, he has taken part in a variety of T-Rec outings, including a glider flight in partnership with the Black Forest Soaring Society. For a life-long fan of all things aviation, it was a dream come true. “Getting up so high made me feel insignificant, but part of a bigger thing. As a person who uses a wheelchair, I felt so free, and it really fueled me to see what else I could do.”

Craig alumni John Vcelka notes that fear can make it easier to say no than yes to leisure pursuits. When he finally said yes, his own experience with T-Rec showed him that “you can still have fun in a chair. … We live. We get out and enjoy our lives. We recreate. And that’s all still possible.”