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Communities that KARE: Alex Mitchell

Compelled to make a difference, a Minneapolis man is using his own experience with traumatic injury to inspire others on their road to recovery.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minneapolis — When the world is social distancing, rehab facilities have had to get creative for patients.

Twenty-five-year-old Alex Mitchell, an intern at Courage Kenny in Minneapolis, leads an adaptive cycling class on Zoom.

"People can jump on if they have a stationary bike, a stationary hand cycle, any type of exercise equipment that they can get on and get moving," Mitchell enthusiastically explained.

Alex not only encourages patients with his words, he's also inspiring them with his movement.

When he was 17, Alex was paralyzed from the neck down after a snowboarding accident.

"I was in ICU in Wisconsin for about a month. And then after that, I was eventually transported to Minnesota to be at Courage Kenny," said Mitchell. 

Yes, the same Courage Kenny where he's working today, helping others with similar injuries.

During his time as a patient, Alex got involved in the ABLE (Active-Based Locomotor Exercise) program. It's designed to help facilitate movement in people with paralysis or a neurological conditions by using specialized equipment.

Credit: Alex Mitchell

"I came in to that program in a power wheelchair. During my time, [I] was able to get rid of the chair and started using forearm crutches, and got a lot of strength back, and big gains and it was huge in my life," recalled Mitchell.

"They allowed me to become independent, involved in many different activities that allowed me to express my self and continue to be an athlete," he said.

Credit: Alex Mitchell

Courage Kenny's ABLE program is still helping Alex today, by allowing him to learn from the best in therapeutic recreation. It's a career he wants to pursue.

"Using my injury to help others is the best way to make a positive out of a negative. So if I'm able to help one other person with a spinal cord injury, then I've been able to accomplish what I want to accomplish," said Mitchell.

Alex says therapeutic rehabilitation deals with complex conditions.

It's not just helping people make physical gains, there are improvements made with emotional, social and psychological health.

To learn more about the ABLE program and the work happening at Courage Kenny, visit the rehabilitation center's website.