Columbia PT Program partners with NYC's Axis Project, serving individuals with disabilities

Posted by vanessa on November 4, 2016

Columbia PT Students with Axis Project clients


The Axis Project, located in New York City’s upper Manhattan, is a community center which provides a variety of services for individuals with disabilities (wheelingforward.org). Twice a year the center runs a Spinal Mobility Program on eight consecutive Saturdays. This program primarily targets individuals with spinal cord injuries but people with other disabilities participate as well. The aim of the center is to motivate people with physical disabilities to pursue a healthy and active lifestyle.

The Columbia University Program in Physical Therapy has partnered with the Axis Project to create a Spinal Mobility elective (an advanced track course) for its students, under the direction of faculty member Dr. Martha Sliwinski. The first spinal cord elective began in the fall of 2015. Its second course, in the fall of 2016, has just concluded.

The center’s spinal mobility program consists of several exercise stations. Circuits include strengthening, aerobic conditioning, spinal mobility training, respiratory training and client education. The spinal mobility training is a therapeutic technique designed to improve core trunk strength and stability.

Columbia PT students who take the course attend training sessions to prepare them for the eight Saturday classes. The number of participants determines the ratio of volunteers for assistance at each station. Columbia students taking this course have the opportunity to practice spinal mobility techniques with the center’s clients and also to assist them through the other circuits. 

“We are so pleased to have this partnership with a community center servicing individuals with disabilities,” commented Dr. Sliwinski. 

In addition to Columbia’s spinal mobility elective, the spinal mobility project collaborates with the Columbia Physical Therapy Program to engage in research.  Dr. Sliwinski’s initial research project with the center was a retrospective study to examine the effects of the eight week exercise program on various aspects of function and quality of life as a result of participating in the program. Dr. Sliwinski will present results of that study at the American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting in 2017 along with her research students Gila Akselrad, Victoria Alla, Valarie Buan and Emily Kaemmerlen (all DPT 2017).

A second research project is now in the final stages of data collection. It is a prospective study that examines the addition of a respiratory training program that was added for a group of the individuals to practice during the week between Saturday classes.

For more information, visit wheelingforward.org, or contact Dr. Martha Sliwinski, ms2814@cumc.columbia.edu.

Amy Spohr (CUDPT 2017) with Axis Project clientMonica LoConti (CUDPT 2017) with Axis Project client

News & Events

ALUMNI UPDATES: NEWS AND NOTESRead more

PT STUDENTS HELP PREVIOUSLY INCARCERATED INDIVIDUALS "STAND TALL" VIA PT-CAN INITIATIVERead more

FACULTY UPDATE: DR. LAUREL DANIELS ABBRUZZESE RECEIVES COLUMBIA PROVOST HYBRID LEARNING GRANT FOR COLLABORATIVE PROJECT WITH COLUMBIA NURSINGRead more

TWO COLUMBIA DPT STUDENTS ELECTED TO BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF APTA SECTION ON WOMEN'S HEALTH STUDENT SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPRead more

Subscribe to our newsletter