\u00a0A \u2018judgment-free zone\u2019 The LifeDesigns ReAbility Solutions center has been offering long-term, affordable rehabilitation services for those with spinal cord injuries, brain injuries and other chronic illnesses since 1984. Clients also include people who have been injured in motorcycle and car accidents, in falls off ladders or cliffs (when mountain climbing or hiking), and by gun incidents. Others may have had strokes, low back or joint injuries MS, Parkinson\u2019s disease, or brain cancer, or been impacted by genetic diseases. The facility has one of the few publicly used functional electric stimulation (FES) bikes in Connecticut. It was donated by the Spinal Cord Injury Association\u2019s Connecticut chapter and has an estimated value of $26,000. It is designed to drive the legs of a patient who\u2019s completely paralyzed at 70 revolutions per minute (rpm) by the use of the person\u2019s own muscles. If the person is only partially paralyzed, the amplitude is reduced to help re-educate the brain and spinal cord, according to owner of the facility, Tad Duni. \u201cThe spine actually has its own brain center and can learn how to walk without the brain,\u201d said Duni. \u201cYou have to use FES, locomotor training, and the Redcord on a regular basis.\u201d Although Duni knows what one of his clients requires to see improvements in mobility, that is not what makes his business successful. The equipment required for his treatment costs thousands of dollars, but with the help of donations and Duni\u2019s ability to build things on his own at a lower cost, he is able to charge his clients significantly less for the service. \u201cI\u2019m an innovator. For example, the Redcord. I took an $8,700 piece of equipment and built it for around $300,\u201d said Duni. \u201cI was able to put one these in my space exactly like the one they offer, but for under $2,000. I built another for under $200, figuring that out after building this one and using it for a couple of months. You have to innovate if you\u2019re going to provide care at a lower cost.\u201d Duni also built a specialized body weight-supported treadmill system with help from his son for under $5,000. The product usually costs more than $100,000, but he was able to create it for less by employing used components. \u201cI bought a used lift and a used treadmill and it works same as the original machine,\u201d said Duni. \u201cSome places will go out and find investors or take out a bank loan to buy the $100,000 piece of equipment. But to get the return on the investment they have to charge $200 for an hour and a half of treatment, whereas we\u2019re going to charge you $55.\u201d Duni clarified that his facility does not offer physical therapy but is a more long-term service. \u201cThese people are going to be with us for a while, some up to 20 years,\u201d said Duni. The friendly staff is a bonus but is an equally important component in clients\u2019 success, according to Duni and other employees. \u201cIt\u2019s important for us to help create an environment where the clients can be themselves, so although we\u2019re in here working hard, we have a lot of fun,\u201d said Duni. Michael Hedrick has been working at the facility for more than three years and said it\u2019s the best job he\u2019s ever had. He recalls working at past jobs where he was discriminated against because of his \u201cintellectual disability.\u201d \u201cI wish there were more places like this,\u201d said Hedrick. \u201cEveryone here is different, but nobody is judged for that. I never saw myself doing something like this, but now that I am I\u2019m happy that I am able to help people live their lives.\u201d Paul Stefano said he\u2019s been working with Duni at the facility for approximately 10 years and the rehabilitation services they have provided over that period of time has changed the lives of many clients. Stefano referred to progress made by one of their clients, a man named Owen, who suffered brain damage after a motorcycle accident. \u201cWhen you look at Owen, when he came here he was nowhere near as animated as he is now. Along the way we discover what works best for each client \u2014 in his case the best thing we did for him was allow him to use the rolling walker,\u201d said Stefano. He added that he believes some of the facility\u2019s success comes from aspects other than clients\u2019 physical treatment. \u201cOur program is much more than physical,\u201d said Stefano. \u201cWhen they come here, after their workout they hang out with the other clients and it\u2019s really a part of the social component. The interaction among each other really goes a long way.\u201d The ReAbility center in downtown Shelton serves only 60 clients, with the intensive one-on-one work it offers people and because of space limitations. Many clients are from the Lower Naugatuck Valley, but others come from all over the state. Clients come in to receive treatment anywhere from three to five times a week. With a small track for walking and a batting cage set up as a part of B&B Batting Cages, which Duni also owns, the facility treats clients using a wide variety of exercises designed to help them improve their range of mobility. Clients are also given various \u201chomework assignments\u201d other than the more aggressive exercises they do while at the facility, according to Duni. \u201cAll of the clients were taken out of major Connecticut rehab hospitals and were told they would never stand or walk again, but now they are walking and standing and doing just fine,\u201d said Duni. \u201cNot perfect or technically even walking according to the definition of walking, but then again, 65% of Americans can\u2019t walk according to that scientific definition.\u201d Duni said he is constantly looking for more volunteers to lend an extra set of hands and they require no experience. Those seeking more information may email Duni at \u00a0or call 203-924-7866.