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Nonprofit Euless gym offers pay-what-you-can physical therapy

05/15/2011 11:04 PM

05/16/2011 1:32 PM

EULESS -- To keep his body working in the early stages of multiple sclerosis, Barclay Burrow went to physical therapy as often as his insurance allowed.

But therapy in a clinic was expensive.

"Every time I went, my co-pay was $45," he said. "That's $90 a week. How long can you do that?"

Burrow did it only until he found Neuro Fitness Foundation, a nonprofit gym in Euless where membership costs him $25 a month. People who have had strokes, brain and spinal cord injuries, and clients with cerebral palsy and other neurological conditions or diseases pay whatever they can, even if it's nothing, for physical therapy.

That's especially important for people who have reached the limits of insurance coverage.

In his third year with MS, Burrow said the gym isn't a substitute for a rehabilitation clinic; it's a place where people use what they learn in rehab to continue enhancing their lives.

TJ Griffin, who broke his neck in 1990 playing football for Trinity High School, is one of 235 members who depend on the gym for that enhancement.

"I'm a C4-C5 quadriplegic," said Griffin, a Neuro Fitness Foundation board member who exercises there at least four times a week. "Even though I'm a quadriplegic, I do almost everything for myself."

The few things Griffin can't do for himself include attaching his hands to his favorite exercise machine, the VitaGlide.

Shelby Lauderdale often does that. A physical therapy technician, Lauderdale worked in an outpatient clinic for three years before coming aboard in March to manage the gym.

"I'm here to assist clients with their workouts and help them accomplish their goals," he said.

Most members' goals are simply to improve their quality of life, Lauderdale said, but one of the biggest benefits is meeting people who are in similar situations.

In a recent yoga session, three members and the volunteer yoga teacher, former neurology nurse Lorna Bell-Curran, surrounded a woman to help her get into a position called the cat. One of the members was Burrow, who jumped up from downward dog when he saw that the woman needed a hand.

"I'm in a situation where I can help people, so I also volunteer up here," he said. "You're among people who won't judge but understand you at a different level."

Griffin said that makes Neuro Fitness members a family.

Terry Evans, 817-390-7620

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