He broke his back four years ago, now he is helping others rehabilitate in Manitoba

WINNIPEG — Instead of traveling out of the province for treatment, people with spinal cord injuries can now stay in Manitoba to continue rehabilitation exercises.

Four years ago Shane Hartje broke his back. He said after being released from the hospital, to continue rehabilitation therapy, the only place he could find was in Regina.

“And I went out there and trained for a few months. That was the hard part for me and that’s why we put the effort in to make it happen,” said Hartje. “I just felt there was a gap that needed to be filled here.”

He said it took three years to get things in place to open the “First Steps to Wellness Centre” at 17 Muir Road in Winnipeg.

“Fortunately we worked with Regina, we had a really good platform to build on and we had to find the right space and we got things going,” he said.

“We had a therapist that we found here in Manitoba. We had them trained in Regina and it really helped us get a good platform to get started here.”

He added that since opening, they have already had more than 30 clients. And they have five staff members including part workers and several volunteers. 

“We have customers that are maintaining themselves, working out on a regular basis,” he said. “Obviously COVID has had a bit of an impact, some people aren’t quite coming back yet.”

It’s about working with the individual to find out exactly what’s needed to help them gain back as much strength as they can, he said.

“With spinal cord injury for example every level of injury provides a different impact on the body,” he said.

“Different muscle groups are impacted from that, so we put together programs that work with all of those to help strengthen and try to give people a functional gain.”

While spinal cord injury rehabilitation services are a huge focus, Hartje said they also work with those recovering from strokes and much more.

“We have a children’s program, that works with children with cerebral palsy so usually working with children that under seven years old and they do an intensive exercise program with us,” he said. 

“So that’s new to us we just got that program off the ground in May so that’s been well received.”

Hartje said they are looking to expand and offer more services in the future. 

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