Special rehabilitation center in Pleasanton uses high-tech equipment

If you look around inside the SCI-FIT center in Pleasanton, along every wall are bars, machines and tables all designed with the goal of helping people dealing with paralysis and recovering from spinal-cord injuries.

There are only a handful of centers like this one in the country.

"I think there are probably less than 20," co-founder Jerry Rainey told KTVU. When it comes to the amount of cutting edge technology, Rainey says you can't find another place like this in the state.

"We far exceed what's at any traditional hospital," said Rainey.

Nick Pappas is one of the dozens of patients going to SCI-FIT for therapy. He has been paralyzed for 20 years.

"When I was 16 racing in motocross, I broke my back," explained Pappas. "So I lost the use of my legs. I thought i was invincible. It made me look at life in a whole new perspective."

Pappas started coming to SCI-FIT for rehabilitation after he broke his neck in 2012. Now, with the help of the Eksobionics exoskeleton, he is standing upright and taking steps.

Pappas said the process can be exhausting, but the fatigue is a small price to pay for the independence he feels.

"It's pretty cool after 20 years to stand up and walk," said Pappas.

SCI-FIT co-founder Dan Dumas knows what that's like.

"I broke my neck in 2005 in Hawaii and was paralyzed from the shoulders down and on a ventilator," remembered Dumas. "And I was told I'd never walk again."

He did walk again three years later, but only after travelling the country looking for the best treatment available.

He ended up teaming up with his trainer Jerry Rainey to open up SCI-FIT. He says he is committed to giving the same opportunity he had to others.

Treatment at SCI-FIT is expensive. Dumas admitted it is the price tag on the technology that keeps more centers from buying it and offering it. Insurance companies are only now getting on board.

But Dumas says all patients are welcome at his center.

"No one gets turned away. If they want to be a part of our program, I will find a way for them to be a part of our program," said Dumas.

When it comes to paralysis, there are no guarantees but Rainey says SCI-FIT can give patients hope.

"If it's going to happen, it's going to happen in a place like this," said Rainey.

Pappas says he hopes one day he'll walk on his own again. But he just focuses on staying positive no matter what life throws at him.

"I just keep going. I don't know how sometimes, but I just keep going," said Pappas. "It's walking! You can't put a price tag on any of this."

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