Conditions & Treatments

Exercise for Persons with Disabilities Program

Many persons with disabilities do not have access to effective exercise programs nor do they have many opportunities to participate in an active lifestyle. There is ample evidence that exercise can result in health benefits and improve the quality of life for those with disabilities. However, exercise must be appropriate to each population to address their unique needs in order to induce optimal health benefits. The Exercise for Persons with Disabilities (ExPD) program provides suitable exercise for people with disabilities such as spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and peripheral neuropathy.

The cornerstone of the ExPD program is indoor adaptive rowing. When appropriate, Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) is used to allow paralyzed muscles to contribute to whole body exercise. In this way, both the paralyzed legs and innervated arms are under voluntary control and higher exercise intensities can be reached and sustained. In fact, some FES-rowers have achieved unprecedented work rates comparable to those of able-bodied rowers.

In addition to our adapted rowing equipment, the ExPD Program uses other adaptive exercise equipment and modalities to improve cardiovascular and muscular strength. This variety of equipment provides opportunity for people across the disability spectrum to perform meaningful exercise.

For more information, please call Glen Picard at 617.758.5511 or email at

Approach To Care

Man rowingYou will be individually evaluated and have an exercise prescription specifically tailored to your needs and capabilities. Your progress is monitored closely, and the exercise prescription is reevaluated frequently. Typically, a combination of indoor rowing (arms only rowing/FES-rowing) and upper body strength training, is used to optimize your performance and functional capacity.

Benefits of participating in the ExPD program can include an increase in aerobic capacity, an increase in lower extremity bone mass, and an improvement in blood lipid profile (cholesterol, triglycerides). An additional benefit is that the exercise is performed in a group setting, allowing you to meet and encourage other participants.

The ExPD Program is run out of Spaulding’s Cambridge, Sandwich, Boston and Salem Outpatient sites.

Leadership and Expertise

The ExPD program is overseen by Exercise Physiologists, who are trained in keeping individuals with disabilities as fit and healthy as possible through the use of aerobic conditioning and strength training. Our team is familiar with a wide range of disabilities and is experienced in advanced technologies such as oxygen consumption measurement and heart rate monitoring. Our job is to provide you with an individualized exercise program that will enable you to reach your maximum exercise potential. Currently, the ExPD program is the only program in the United States that offers adaptive indoor FES rowing, giving our staff unparalleled expertise in this emerging form of exercise.

Participants in the Exercise with Disabilities Program have competed in the Crash B’s, an international indoor rowing competition held annually at Boston University.  Other individuals in the ExPD program have been introduced to and trained for wheelchair racing, going on to compete in 5k’s, 10k’s, half and full marathons (including the Boston Marathon).



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Please call for more information or to make a referral

Inpatient: 1.617.952.5350

Outpatient: 1.888.SRN.4330

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