West Los Angeles, California:   VA Medical Center:  Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Services (PM&RS) Department,  Wellness Clinic, Back School & Lumbar Stabilization Program, Amputee Clinic

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION:  Within the Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Services Department we offer a Back School Program and an advanced Lumbar Stabilization Class for Veterans suffering from chronic back and neck pain.  The purpose of the Back School Program is to educate patients on the proper use and care of the back.  This program may be used for prevention of injuries, as well as rehabilitation.  The Therapists in the Wellness Clinic cover topics such as the multiple causes of chronic low back pain including: poor posture/muscular imbalance, improper lifting/body mechanics, strength and flexibility of the key musculature involved with the back, adhesions or scar tissue aka trigger points restricting flexibility and muscular strength, stress and poor diet/reduced nutrients to support healthy joints.

The Back School program is once a week and concentrates on back education such as anatomy of the spine and related musculature, correct body mechanics, posture and then progressing to beginning stretching and strengthening exercises of the back. We commonly see between 10-15 Veterans each week for this program.

The Lumbar Stabilization class is 2x/week for 4 weeks and emphasizes the importance of back stabilization exercise, intermediate stretching/strengthening exercises, postural analysis, correction of postural deficits and practical application of body mechanics.  We generally see between 8-10 Veterans each class.

The Veterans attending these programs are unfamiliar with how to attain and maintain a ìneutral spineî during stretching and strengthening exercises.  Since the introduction of the AB-Inforcer Core Biofeedback training system, we have seen a vast improvement in the number of patients independently demonstrating proper spine stabilization, posture and body mechanics within our program.  Without the physical biofeedback from the AB-Inforcer, patients find it difficult to understand (from a verbal description) how to mobilize the pelvis and maintain abdominal bracing throughout the exercises.

The AB-Inforcer has been just as beneficial for use within the Amputee Clinic in promoting functional balance of the pelvis while stabilizing the lumbar spine, secondary to the loss of a limb.  With the information attained through the current studies involving the AB-Inforcer and amputee patients, we at the VA Medical Center feel we simply cannot do enough to give back to the Veterans that have given a piece of themselves to support our country.

Bob Wieland, ESPY Life Time Award winner, Vietnam Veteran and double amputee (pictured above) trains with Lee Brandon, CSCS in West LA.  “Every Vet needs an AB-Inforcer, Bob said.  I love that the AB-Inforcer doesn’t assume I have legs, yet most core training protocols and machines are inaccessible to me.  Try training your core on a swiss ball without legs.  It’s not pretty!  The AB-Inforcer gave me the best core work out I’d had in years.”

Lee Brandon, CSCS, the inventor of the AB-Inforcer, was a near amputee survivor herself.  “On Feb. 27th, 1979, my life changed.  I fell through a plate glass window and my arm had to be reattached.  It took 7 years of rehabilitation to get full sensation back into the entire arm and hand.  My near death experience touched me on a deep level, and I feel the loss our Challenged Veterans deal with on a daily basis.  I am honored that the AB-Inforcer is being used to help young men and women stand up in their new limbs by turning on their core muscles.  It is humbling and overwhelming to know that 4 VA Hospitals are on board with this technology, It is my wish to get it into all of them!  In some crazy way, it makes my painful loss and experience make sense!”