The Liz Fust Community Fund
Hope for a Brighter Future for People with Spinal Cord Injuries
Liz awoke one morning in January 2006, to breathtaking pain in her back. She got out of bed and collapsed on the floor. “My legs just went hot and then numb,” she says. “I couldn’t move.” Liz, an active 38-year-old attorney, had suffered a spinal cord stroke that left her paralyzed and in a wheelchair.
Fortunately, at Louisville’s Frazier Rehab Liz was able to participate in the highest quality, cutting edge spinal cord injury rehabilitation available. And even after being discharged from therapy, Liz has been able to continue this vital therapeutic exercise through Frazier’s innovative and unique Community Fitness and Wellness gym. to see a video of Liz working out in the gym.
You can make a difference in the lives of people with disabling injuries and illnesses like Liz by making a donation to the Liz Fust Community Fund which was established by Liz, along with the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation, to expand the capacity of the Frazier Rehab Spinal Cord Medicine Program and the Community Fitness and Wellness gym to serve more people.
In 2011 donations helped people like 13-year-old Jalen. Click here to see a video of Jalen. Click here to make a secure online gift.
The Frazier Rehab Community Fitness and Wellness Gym
The Liz Fust Community Fund supports Frazier’s innovative Community Fitness and Wellness gym, which grew out of the Spinal Cord Medicine Program and is largely grant funded, including support from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. The gym provides highly specialized health-promoting exercise activities to people with physical disabilities that are unavailable anywhere else in the region.
In addition to a wide range of wheelchair accessible cardiovascular and strength training equipment, the gym offers individualized fitness packages including guided exercise (one-on-one sessions with a trained staff member), locomotor training (a proven rehabilitation technique developed by Susan Harkema, Ph.D., a UofL researcher housed at Frazier and national leader in spinal cord injury rehabilitation), and functional electrical stimulation (FES) cycling (these bicycles allow people with sensorimotor deficits, such as paralysis, to cycle with the assistance of electrical stimulation to leg muscles).
People with physical disabilities make up 12% of our community, are more likely to live in poverty, more likely to rely on government benefits, report lower rates of good health, and have a higher number of negative secondary health conditions (e.g. spasticity, seizures, pain, fatigue, depression, obesity, diabetes, hypertension) than the general population. These health disparities are linked to difficulty in accessing health-promoting programs and facilities. The Community Fitness and Wellness gym addresses this problem.
Liz’s Fund has helped purchase accessible equipment and helped provide scholarships to people with disabilities who cannot afford the gym’s current membership and activity fees. The gym offers a unique set of resources found nowhere else in the region and helps people with chronic injuries and illnesses sustain the gains they achieve in therapy, improve their quality of life, reduce secondary health problems, and maintain independence.
The Frazier Rehab Spinal Cord Medicine Program
The Liz Fust Community Fund supports Frazier Rehab’s Spinal Cord Medicine Program. Through a partnership with the University of Louisville and its Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, people who have been paralyzed by injury or accident are regaining physical abilities that dramatically improve their quality of life. And some are even walking again.
Susan Harkema, Ph.D., a researcher recruited through Bucks for Brains to UofL, is at the frontier of medical innovation that is giving people with spinal cord injuries new hope for the future. Using a therapy called locomotor training, this groundbreaking program at Frazier Rehab is one of just a handful in the United States and the lead center nationally for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation’s NeuroRecovery Network, established to fuel breakthroughs in spinal cord treatment. With locomotor training, people experience better overall health and report a better quality of life. “I never feel better than when I can get out of my wheelchair and do this locomotor training,” Liz Fust said.
Please join with Liz and many others by making a gift to continue to bring hope and healing to people with spinal cord injuries. Click here to make your gift.
Watch Locomotor Training in action and hear the difference it makes in the lives of those living with spinal cord injuries.