The journey to recovery starts now!

Without proper stimulation, gravity, and weight-bearing activities, the human body begins to deteriorate. This includes the loss of bone density, muscle mass, and central nervous system function. In the context of spinal cord injuries (SCI), muscles are often affected by tone and spasms, causing them to shorten and adapt to the wheelchair-bound environment. Targeted exercise can help mitigate these issues.

Increasingly, medical professionals are referring newly injured athletes to The Next Step Recovery and Wellness Centre. Many of these athletes begin their recovery journey right after leaving the hospital, provided they have doctor’s clearance. This early intervention can lead to faster improvements, as these athletes have not fully adapted to the SCI environment.

While you can’t predict the future, our program offers you an opportunity to influence the outcome.

Your recovery plan should commence on the day of your injury. It’s crucial to research and understand the realities of your injury. What you hear in the hospital and during rehabilitation is often based on the last 50 years of occupational medicine, which may not fully reflect the potential for recovery.

The Next Step Recovery and Wellness Centre is here to provide Australians with spinal cord injuries access to leading recovery programs that enhance their quality of life, overall well-being, and independence.

Is recovery guaranteed?

Nothing in life is guaranteed, but if you do nothing to promote recovery, you are almost guaranteed a life without it. Taking charge of your well-being and future is what gives life purpose. At The Next Step Recovery and Wellness Centre, we cannot promise that you will regain the ability to walk. However, we do promise to provide the best facilities, a nurturing environment for healing, highly trained and skilled staff specialising in exercise-based recovery, and a long-term, personalised plan tailored to your athletes needs.

How long should I wait before I start my recovery?

The sooner you start your recovery journey, the better. Once you have transitioned from the ICU to rehabilitation, are in good health, and have obtained clearance from your doctor, it’s time to begin. Every day, month, or year spent in a wheelchair without stimulating your nervous system makes it progressively harder to regain function. Think of your body in the early stages of injury like freshly poured concrete, it’s malleable. But as time passes, it sets, and reshaping it becomes increasingly challenging. We’ve witnessed athletes with incomplete injuries struggling with tone and spasm because they didn’t receive early stimulation. Sadly, they are not alone. Many people experience signs of improvement, like wiggling toes or regaining sensation, but are often told these are insignificant. In reality, they are crucial. It means everything. Your future hinges on nervous system stimulation for improvement. So, educate yourself, set your goals, and do everything in your power to regain function. This not only leads to physical and mental improvements but also enhances your overall quality of life.

What is the timeline to regain function?

There are no fixed deadlines or specific timeframes. The timeline for regaining function varies widely from person to person and depends on the nature of the injury. Recovery is a highly individualised journey, and it’s only when someone begins to regain function that we can be certain of their progress. In essence, recovery is an ongoing, lifelong process that only comes to a stop when you decide to stop trying for improvement.

The doctor tells me I have two years to recover, is this true?

The doctors are correct in one aspect of the two-year window theory—many athletes see the majority of their gains in the first two years after injury. However, it’s important to understand that this doesn’t mean recovery is limited to that timeframe. Your body has a natural inclination to recover, so why not maximise your chances? Without stimulation, your body will deteriorate. Traditional treatment alone may not effectively stimulate the paralysed body, leading to muscle loss, decreased bone density, and reduced central nervous system activity. You can still recover function well beyond the two-year mark, but it becomes increasingly challenging the longer you wait. While the two-year mark is often cited, it’s based on the assumption that you do nothing to improve during that time. We’ve worked with athletes who are three or more years post-injury and still making progress. The message is clear: don’t wait. Seize the opportunity to facilitate your body’s healing before it’s too late.

How long is a recovery program?

The duration of a recovery program varies greatly and doesn’t adhere to a standard timeline. Each athlete sets their own goals and works toward their unique needs and desired outcomes. It’s important to understand that no two spinal cord injuries are alike, making comparisons between individuals is inappropriate because each person regains function differently. Spinal cord injuries are as distinct as snowflakes, with recovery paths differing for everyone.

Recovery, in this context, isn’t a finite program with an endpoint. It’s a lifelong journey that encompasses all aspects of your life. What you do outside of The Next Step Recovery and Wellness Centre is just as crucial as your work within the facility. Successful athletes who are regaining function often achieve independence, return to school or work, and have a strong support network of family and friends.

At The Next Step, recovery goes beyond being able to walk again. It encompasses a higher quality of life and increased independence. We celebrate ALL achievements, whether they are physical or mental, and because there’s no fixed timeline for recovery, it’s imperative to develop and implement a life plan that supports your goals.


Everyone needs hope. Without hope you can’t recover.

Hope is an essential ingredient for recovery. It serves as a powerful driving force that propels individuals forward on their path to healing and improvement.

Should I give up everything and try to recover?

No! You should never give up your life, family, or friends in pursuit of recovery. A strong support network and a well-rounded approach to life are key ingredients for a successful and happy recovery journey.

Recovery is a journey that should complement and enhance your life, not consume it entirely. Remember that recovery is not just about physical gains; it’s also about regaining independence, happiness, and fulfilment in all aspects of life.

It’s a multifaceted journey that encompasses physical, emotional, and social aspects of life. While striving for physical improvement is important, it should not come at the cost of your overall well-being and happiness. Recovery means finding ways to regain independence, enjoy life, and continue pursuing your passions and interests. It’s about striking a balance between your rehabilitation efforts and the other aspects of your life that bring you joy and fulfilment. Your support network of family and friends plays a crucial role in your recovery journey, providing motivation and emotional support.

“You must stimulate your lower body or you will not regain function/use of it”

This statement is true. The human body functions as a cohesive unit, not as individual parts. With the nervous system orchestrating multiple complex tasks, one of its primary roles is to maintain a stable upright posture in response to gravity. When you engage the postural skeletal muscles against gravity, you activate the nervous system, creating a demand for maintaining posture. The leg muscles, being long and strong, are the easiest to stimulate initially. As these leg muscles regain strength, they prompt the pelvic muscles to aid in stabilisation. This, in turn, stimulates the abdominal and lower back muscles to further support stability.

Without incorporating load bearing and closed chain exercises with developmental movement patterns into your regimen, achieving significant improvement becomes challenging.

Are there any ‘symptoms’ that may indicate potential to regain function?

Absolutely! Moving a toe. If you can move a toe, it’s a promising sign for regaining leg function. Toes are the furthest from the injury site, so if signals can reach them, there’s potential to bridge the gap.

Spasms, burning, tingling, pain, or any leg sensations. These indicate a dysfunctional nervous system that can be trained. Starting your recovery early can help you regain control over spasms and reduce the need for pain and spasm medications. Many athletes who’ve regained movement or sensation experienced spasms initially but learned to manage them.

Ability to move one muscle in your leg. If you can move even one muscle in your leg, your chances of restoring function in all leg muscles increase. Most injuries create a strong side and a weaker side, which must be addressed early. Focusing on the strong side alone leads to more dysfunction, making walking nearly impossible. Stimulating the weaker, dysfunctional side with developmental movement patterns restores balance, resulting in a functional gait.

Which funding providers can I use to access The Next Step services?

The Next Step is a NDIS Provider listed under the “Health & Wellbeing” category.

Additionally, we offer services to recipients from the following providers:

  • TAC
  • Medicare
  • Department of Veteran Affairs
  • icare

Our goal is to make sure you can access the care and support you need, and we work with a range of funding providers to make this possible.

Download our application pack

At The Next Step Recovery and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, our mission is to provide tailored programs and services for athletes recovering from spinal cord injuries and neurological conditions. Our Athlete Scholarship Program secures generous funding for athletes without financial support.