ViPR can help increase the independence of residents with special needs, says fitness specialist Caitlin Deis and Fitness for Life.

When fitness specialist Caitlin Deis started working with Matthew, a longtime resident of the St Louis Center for people with special needs, he had very limited mobility. However, after Caitlin began incorporating ViPR into their personal therapy sessions, they were able to develop a routine that served to increase Matthew’s range of motion by moving his limbs in many different directions. 

Both Matthew and Caitlin are active participants in what is known as Fitness for Life, a health and fitness program offered by the St Louis Center and designed to help children and adults with developmental disabilities to achieve and maintain optimal health and functional fitness performance. 

The Michigan-based program was created to address the fact that it is much more difficult for people like Matthew to perform every-day physical tasks, such as running, jumping, swimming, climbing stairs, putting on a seat belt or carrying a bag of groceries, than it is for the rest of the population. As a direct response to this reality, Fitness for Life endeavors to develop and strengthen participants’ physiological capacity to perform daily activities with increasing amounts of safety and independence. 

“My goal is to provide individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities an exercise program that helps increase their quality of life through exercise therapy,” Caitlin explains.

Not only has ViPR therapy helped Matthew increase his flexibility but it has also enabled him to execute some of the in-class exercises on his own. Today, Matthew is able to perform daily activities independently and is now capable of reaching for something on a high shelf, putting on his seatbelt and bending down to pick up objects.  In response to her client’s rapid improvement, Caitlin says, “The versatility of ViPR played a very important role in our Fitness for Life program."