SIJ Donates Funds for a New Walking Practice Device for Children in URI Soča Rehabilitation Programs

The walking practice device will enable children at URI Soča to undergo early rehabilitation after trauma or disease that impedes mobility. A share of the funds will be used to purchase a children's cough assist machine. The donated machines will be presented to the URI Soča children's department on "WALK STRONGER DAY" in June, a fun event that will also include a picnic.

SIJ – Slovenian Steel Group has earmarked another donation to the University Rehabilitation Institute of RS – Soča (URI Soča), totaling EUR 45,000. The majority of the funds will be used to purchase an Innowalk Pro Small device. The equipment will be used for walking practice, strengthening muscles and improving the general physical condition of even the youngest patients in rehabilitation at the children's department. It is intended for children who are otherwise able to walk but whose ability to do so has deteriorated or been impeded due to trauma or disease, as well as for children who are not able to stand and walk on their own. Suitable for children from 100 to 140 cm in height, the new device will enable them to practice walking and strengthen lower limb functions through guided reciprocal movement of legs and simultaneous strengthening of arms. Using the Innowalk Pro Small, the children will be able to use assisted, guided, and repetitive walking in an upright weight-bearing position to prepare for unaided movement and stimulate active movement of the lower and upper limbs. The patients will improve their flexibility, reduce abnormally-increased muscle tone, learn reciprocal leg movements for walking at a later stage, and experience many other beneficial effects. The equipment can also be used without the arm function where necessary.

A share of the donation will be used to purchase a cough assist machine for children. This is particularly useful for children with the most severe defects, who are unable to move on their own, spend most of their time lying down or sitting with support, have shallow breathing and are unable to cough effectively. For some patients, this machine is particularly important in the early rehabilitation period, while for others it remains useful later in life if the functioning of their respiratory muscles and lungs remains weak. The parents can learn to use the machine during rehabilitation, and then acquire one for home use later. Using a cough assist machine significantly improves breathing and lung ventilation, reducing the risk of pneumonia. The youngest patients had previously shared a cough assist machine with the adults, but now they will receive a dedicated children's machine.

Robert Cugelj, MSc, General Director of URI Soča, said: "With this, the second major donation in two years, URI Soča and the SIJ Group are continuing their excellent cooperation, enabling the youngest patients in Slovenia to benefit from rehabilitation that is comparable to therapies available in the most highly developed expert institutions around the world. At URI Soča we warmly welcome this important gesture and the trust shown by the SIJ Group in our work."

Anton Chernykh, President of the Board of Directors of the SIJ Group: "The SIJ Group is dedicated to sustainable development.
With that in mind, we are delighted to be able to contribute to the top-level rehabilitation programs at URI Soča for the second consecutive year. I am convinced that the device that we have donated will prove a close ally of their experts and therapists, as well as a great help for the children, encouraging them to take small but firm steps and improving their mobility and independence."

In 2015 the SIJ Group made its first donation of EUR 50,000, enabling URI Soča to purchase an Armeo Spring Pediatric, a robotic device for upper limb movement. The youngest patients suffering from arm and hand mobility problems due to neurological conditions have been using it for almost a year, maintaining and restoring their motor abilities, learning new movements and improving their movement coordination. The effects are encouraging and the use of computer games makes the children more motivated to work than regular functional arm therapy.

At URI Soča they are expecting the Innowalk Pro Small walking practice device and the cough assist machine, purchased with this year's donation, to arrive in June. They will be presented on Walk Stronger Day, a fun event with a picnic, intended to give children, parents, the URI Soča children's department staff and the SIJ Group representatives an opportunity to spend some time together.

These important new machines will make it possible for the staff at URI Soča to carry out their mission even more effectively, use new, state-of-the-art methods of effective rehabilitation, and help their patients to return home as soon as possible and resume an active life.



The SIJ Group is the largest Slovenian vertically integrated metallurgical group, whose products occupy leading positions on the European and global niche steel markets. The Group consists of five business divisions, 23 subsidiaries in Europe and the US, and around 3,400 employees. In 2015, the SIJ Group generated sales revenues of EUR 664.8 million, an operating profit (EBITDA) of EUR 63.5 million and a net profit of EUR 10.7 million. The share of exports in the structure of sales revenues increased by 1.1 percentage points to 87.3 percent, ranking the SIJ Group as one of the largest exporters in Slovenia.

Further information:

Dr. Denis Mancevič, Director of Corporate Communications