As a general practitioner, Valentina Londoño is the first and only certified activity-based trainer in the Caribbean territory. In this part of the world, only the USA has general practitioners that have acquired the same achievement. Valentia helps clients
in the AP Center to reach their self-established goals so that they are able to do more after rehabilitation.
‘A goal could be, that a client who suffered a stroke, wants to be able to get up unaided after a fall’, explains Valentina. ‘I have a case where we teach the person to get up unassisted, even if it might take a while. The client wanted to be able to take action if she were to stumble while at home by herself. She was fed up with having to wait for hours until someone found her.’ ‘A goal can also be something almost impossible to notice, but still mean a world of difference to the client. For example, exercises that help prevent bedsores or exercises that help a client feel when it’s time to use the restroom. There are quite a few examples where you can see that after a few sessions they no longer need medications for these issues.’
‘The activity-based training takes it a step further than just physical improvement’, Valentina observes. ‘It is a totally different approach from rehabilitation. We try to stimulate the muscles to take over certain tasks. We notice that this is truly possible with intensive training. Being the trainer, you are the extension of your client’s muscles. We really see a difference by activating them. I must add that all our clients, without exceptions, are truly motivated to improve. Improvement also helps the emotional state. In that regard, the trainings are also of great psychological value.’
‘In this respect, the group projects within the AP Center are also particularly important. The results are not the same for everyone, not everyone makes equal progress. But training together and working in a group enables the clients to support each other and allows them to see from one another that with perseverance and motivation you can ultimately reach a goal – big or small.’
‘With activity-based training, we stimulate the nervous system by focusing on muscles and movements. This approach is still new and pretty much unheard of in the Caribbean. The trainers are taught by specialists from the USA.’ ‘The results are astonishing, but regretfully most people still believe that if you end up in a wheelchair with a spinal cord injury for example, there is not much that can be done. Activity-based training most certainly is effective. We know that by doing exercises there is room for improvement. We see it happening at the AP Center every day.’
Everyone can end up in a wheelchair
‘Regretfully, people with a physical disability are a forgotten group in our society. People are afraid to get cancer or a heart attack, which is why a lot of money is donated for research and treatment of these diseases. People relate much less to physical disabilities. Which is astounding, because anyone can end up in a wheelchair unexpectedly as a result of an accident or illness.