Moving With Hope: Building up those with debilitating injuries

Tad Duni, founder of Shelton-based Moving With Hope, Inc., aids individuals suffering from brain and spinal cord injuries. — Brian Gioiele/Hearst Connecticut Media

Amid the bustle of the downtown’s varied shops and eateries lies a hidden gem — a place of inspiration for those suffering from debilitating neurological conditions, such as brain and spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease, MS and neurophathy.

Moving With Hope, Inc., the brainchild of Tad Duni, is a nonprofit agency located in a nondescript building on Center Street, but inside, according to Duni, dreams come alive for individuals suffering from brain and spinal cord injuries through a cost effective, personalized regimen designed to put them on their feet again.

Working out on the equipment is key for many using Moving With Hope as they overcome brain and spinal cord injuries. — Brian Gioiele/Hearst Connecticut Media

“Our mission is to provide year-round access at an affordable price in the community for those people recovering from moderate to severe neurological conditions,” said Duni, who opened the business in 2010. “This is critical because other programs like this are only research oriented. No one provides what we do.

“An angel has been guiding us on the right path, and we’ve accomplished some amazing things,” added Duni. “We have a goal here … a mission. Our goal to help people, and if you don’t have that, you don’t belong in this business.”

Duni said his operation provides financial assistance to all families in need of long-term recovery that have limited resources. Moving With Hope offers year-round post-acute outpatient physical, occupational, speech and cognitive therapies for people with complicated neuroendocrine and orthopedic diseases.

“Every minute spent with these people is precious,” said Duni.

Moving With Hope works with some 50 people a year, ages 20 to 86. During the past year, Duni’s team of three full-time and eight part-time employees provided more than 24,000 hours of direct client services, which aided in the clients’ functional independence dramatically improving, he said.

Starting this past month, Duni said Moving With Hope expanded its services to include skilled occupational therapy, physical therapy and SLP. These additional services will complete Duni’s community-based model goal of providing the best possible opportunity for people to realize optimal recovery, health, wellness and independence.

Moving With Hope staff aid one person walk around the facility. This company, founded by Tad Duni, focuses on getting individuals suffering from brain and spinal cord injuries back on their feet. — Brian Gioiele, Hearst Connecticut Media

Staff work with people of varying degrees of injury. Some enter truly unable to walk on their own, and staff members use on-site equipment to aid in strengthening their core, then slowly moving them to a standing position, finally to a point where they assist the individual as they walk. This process takes a couple hours a day, weeks or months before true progress comes to light.

For those with brain injuries, staff use writing prompts and repetition to aid in helping the individuals develop a routine, through which the brain is stimulated and they become able to perform simple, yet regular tasks.

And these work sessions are intensive but successful, according to Duni, who has seen countless people come into his facility barely able to move or use cognitive thought, then leave with improvement in all areas — ready to enter a world that had become foreign to them after their injury. And once in the world, Duni said Moving With Hope remains a constant resource, always affordable, so they stay on the path of physical and ultimately emotional improvement.

“Hundreds of thousands of people in New England are suffering with these injuries, but you never see them, never think of them because they are not out,” said Duni. “They are homebound. But they come here, we work with them, and they begin to stand, move into the community.”

And once moving, Duni said these individuals need skilled occupational, physical and speech therapy, and the expansion of the operation will put a focus on that those people need from the skill perspective. Duni said the new operation will also soon cater to young, as well as adults, with after-school hours for children suffering with such injuries.

“We are the only place in Connecticut that can do that,” said Duni, “and we are proud of how we have been able to help so many.”

brian.gioiele@hearst.com