Welcome to Next Steps Chicago

Next Steps is a not-for-profit organization which provides innovative treatment for patients afflicted with an array of neurological conditions.


Next Steps offers a unique fusion of physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and personal trainers working in tandem to provide functional, activity-based and specific locomotor training for people with neurological disorders. Next Steps was the first free standing, non-profit physical therapy and exercise facility devoted to the rehabilitation and overall wellness of people living with some of the most challenging and devastating injuries and disorders – SCI, Traumatic Brain Injury, Stroke, Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and an array of other neurological conditions.


Next Steps is devoted to offering patients an exercise/rehabilitation facility that will aid them in taking their next step towards a more functional, independent, and healthy lifestyle. Not only is Next Steps committed to helping patients regain a higher quality of life, but also to support the advancement of scientific research that will aid in the treatment of spinal cord injury.

Our staff and facility offer an environment in which clients strive for achievement in meeting functional goals and overall health improvements.


Jon O’Connor was an entrepreneur, visionary, philanthropist, aviation enthusiast, caring and compassionate person who’s mission allowed him to be a beacon of hope for people with neurological conditions by providing them with a place to continue their journey after their traditional therapy concluded. 

At the age of 29, Jon established the O’Connor Foundation to provide financial support to charities such as Maryville Academy, an Illinois orphanage for abused children.  His success in the construction business, along with his passion for investing in the markets, afforded him the wherewithal to financially support such charities. Perhaps more importantly, he found time to serve as a mentor to a group that desperately needed one.


We are redefining recovery

Spinal Cord Injuries can present many different ways depending on the level at which the injury occurs. Physical therapy is tailored to patients’ needs based on their level of function and goals. Physical therapy can help work on things such as wheelchair positioning, compensatory techniques, range of motion, strength training, and ambulation.

Cerebrovascular Accidents can cause weakness, difficulty with skilled movement, impaired speech, and obstacles while performing activities of daily living.  Physical therapy can help improve functional mobility, motor re-education, sensory awareness, and other appropriate therapeutic strategies based on a patient’s specific level of function and goals.

Traumatic Brain Injuries may result in difficulty with walking, speech, balance, and functional motor tasks.  Physical therapy can help with these difficulties, as well as teach compensatory mechanisms to improve activities of daily living.

Cerebral Palsy may cause abnormal muscle tone, poor posture control, motor delays, and balance impairments.  Physical therapy can help normalize tone, educate patients and caregivers, increase range of motion and strength, improve balance and mobility skills, and work towards functional goals.

Multiple Sclerosis may result in a patient presenting with increased fatigue, decreased balance, impaired coordination, and overall decreased mobility.  Physical therapy can help patients that have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis maintain their current level of function, increase their endurance, practice balance activities, and more!

Parkinson’s Disease can lead to difficulty initiating and stopping movements, shuffling gait patterns, poor posture, and slow movements.  Physical therapy will help maximize endurance, strength, and functional mobility for people that have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  Balance activities, gait training, and stretching are other important aspects that might be included in a physical therapy treatment session.


Our staff and facility offer an environment and culture in which clients and therapists  strive together for achievement of functional goals and improved health. Functional goals may include:  improved walking and standing, transfer ability, trunk stability, posture, balance, and strength, and sport participation. 

Health and wellness goals include: significant gains in cardiovascular and pulmonary function, increased bone density, decreased spasticity, reduction in the risk of skin lesions, and enhanced glucose tolerance.

Featured Services

Next Steps is committed to helping patients regain a higher quality of life

At Next Steps, we provide one-on-one physical therapy sessions with a licensed physical therapist or physical therapist assistant.  Our therapy sessions are designed for the patient’s specific therapeutic needs and goals and are delivered in a challenging and competitive environment which is safe and structured for our patients.

Our Physical Therapists are highly skilled and educated and operate in an environment that is dedicated to rehabilitation excellence for our patients. Physical therapy is an absolute imperative if you are hoping to gain strength and enhanced range of motion with the ultimate goal of living as independently as possible.  We currently accept Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Neuro-Adaptive Fitness and Wellness (NAFW) is one-on-one personal training with a neuro- exercise specialist. The program is cash-based and allows our clients to come in and receive functional fitness and wellness when insurance is not an option. We work on personal goals and maintenance in order to prevent regression.  Our ultimate goal is to continually work towards rehabilitation progression.

Join us for a variety of motivating, fun group exercise classes including Adaptive Dance Cardio, Tai Chi and Yoga.  Next Steps offers a variety of classes taught by qualified therapists and instructors to help you stay active.

Classes are scheduled mornings, afternoons and evenings.  We welcome people with all levels of ability. For people who may need more assistance to participate, caregiver participation is encouraged.


Next Steps of O’Connor Foundation offers limited financial aid to qualifying individuals who are experiencing financial hardship that directly impacts their ability to continue their physical therapy.

Please send an email to nextstepschicago@gmail.com requesting application for financial aid.


Our Equipment

Next Steps offers a myriad of equipment options to provide active therapy to achieve goals of reversing muscle atrophy, encouraging neuroplasticity and regaining function. Next Steps is equipped with cutting edge Virtual Reality technology, a RT300 FES UE/LE Ergometer with Sage controller, a Spinal Cord Simulator,  a Therastride body weight supported treadmill system,  a Hocoma Lokomat body weight supported treadmill with robotic assisted walking,  and an Argo’s ReWalk Exoskeleton.

Virtual Reality is the newest technology that we are currently integrating into our client’s therapy and training regimens.  Evidence supports that VR based therapy is an effective means of improving motor learning, balance, functional mobility, and social participation in individuals with neuromotor impairments.

Complex VR therapy exercises allow the patient to interact with the virtual world in three dimensions, providing an enormously enhanced, immersive experience that compels the use of greater brain power and improves synaptic connections that drives neuroplastic changes for the clients benefit.

The RT 300 FES Cycle is an upper and lower extremity cycle that utilizes electrical stimulation to contract paralyzed muscles to promote neuromuscular recovery, improve cardiovascular endurance, and enhance muscle girth.

The Xcite system uses functional electrical stimulation to facilitate over 40 task specific, strengthening, and gross motor training activities. By using sequenced stimulation pattern to perform each functional activity, the patient has the opportunity to practice real life tasks and develop improved strength and coordination.

The Lokomat is a robotic assisted body weight supported treadmill training system that allows individuals with severe neurological disabilities to walk with pre-programmed physiological gait parameters.

The Therastride is a manual body weight supported treadmill training system that allows individuals with paralysis to walk with body weight support while preserving normal kinematics of gait. In addition to improving mobility in certain patients, the PowerStep with Locomotor Training has been shown to enhance the overall health of patients. Potential benefits include:  

  • Improved cardiovascular and pulmonary functioning.
  • Promoting strength and healing potential of the skin.
  • Increased blood flow to the upper and lower extremities.
  • Increased bone density.
  • Improving bowel and bladder function.
  • Improvements in emotional and psychological well-being.

The ReWalk is a robotic exoskeleton that uses motorized legs to power hip and knee movement.  It allows for locomotion on land with the use of crutches at speeds up to 1.3 mph.


At Next Steps we are committed to fostering an environment in which research remains our driving ambition and we strongly encourage our physical therapists to engage in research and publication.  We are also fundamentally a teaching facility through our partnership and collaboration with one of the leading academic institutions for professionals pursuing masters and doctoral degrees in the rehabilitation arena.

Next Steps is also a member of the NeuroRecovery Network (“NRN”) through our affiliation with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.  The NRN is a network of rehabilitation centers charged with developing and providing therapies that promote functional recovery for people living with paralysis.

Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Neuro Recovery Network.

Finally, Next Steps is also engaging in clinical trials that are at the cutting edge of exploration for people afflicted with SCI.

Next Steps is a not-for-profit organization with the mission of helping people living with disability. Next Steps provides the highest quality therapy with the most advanced therapeutic technology at the lowest possible cost to people who would otherwise not have access. Your generosity helps people living with severe neurological disorders fight to recover – by helping Next Steps, you give them an opportunity to maximize their recovery.

OUR CLASSES: Adaptive Group Exercise

We welcome people with all levels of ability

If you like rhythm, this is the class for you!  Join us for an hour of seated dance to a variety of styles including salsa, cumbia, hip hop and more.

This Chinese martial art is a gentle form of exercise that incorporates deep breathing, relaxation, and slow, controlled movements that promote balance of health, energy and body awareness.

Adaptive yoga is instructed by a physical therapist and a registered yoga therapist.  It is designed to improve your sense of wellbeing, reduce fatigue, and improve mobility.  Therapeutic Yoga is tailored to the goals of a small group of individuals to use movement and mind body connections to promote mobility, flexibility, and balance.

Drop in to train for strength and endurance in a supportive social setting.  Activities include bench press, adaptive biking (outdoors weather permitting), badminton, towing, and adaptive shot put.

Spend 60 minutes challenging your heart for improved cardiovascular health while improving posture and balance.  Interval and circuit formatting is applied to the use of equipment such as arm bikes, cable pulleys, rowing machines, and weights.

Strong, Safe Shoulders is intended to improve shoulder strength and range.  This class offers participants strength and flexibility exercises in a group setting.

Subscribe: Virtual Workouts

We are excited to announce our newest service. Try our virtual services with a one time payment of $5 until October 14, 2020! Like our library? Subscription plans include monthly and annual discounted plans.

Subscription includes access to the complete Next Steps Virtual Workout Library which includes videos for all levels in a variety of formats. Workouts are taught by qualified, certified instructors and may be demonstrated by individuals with various levels of ability. Available formats include our general group exercise formats like cardio and core, pure strength, as well as premium formatting like Yoga, Pilates, and Feldenkrais. To keep your workouts motivating and dynamic, all classes are included in both the monthly and annual subscription plans.

Register: On Site classes

Coming Soon: Zoom class registration!

Register for our on site classes using our virtual registration. Thank you for your continued support! With the help of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, we have been able to continue offering classes as donation based, and reduced the cost of premium classes. It is our mission to increase the opportunity to participate in wellness. With that in mind, please help support the program by making a donation to the program either on a monthly basis or as a one time donation.

How can you help?

Next Steps is a not-for-profit organization which provides top-notch treatment for patients with different neurological conditions. However, what makes it possible for us to assist in the recovery, is the generosity of people like you! Help NextSteps continue to provide the very best in treatment and recovery by donating today!.