04/13/05 — Aquatics therapy to be available soon at Family Y

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Aquatics therapy to be available soon at Family Y

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 13, 2005 1:47 PM

Patients finding traditional physical therapy challenging will soon have another option available to them.

"The pool is great medicine to use," says Scott Gibson, director of rehabilitation services at Wayne Memorial Hospital, especially for those who cannot tolerate "land-based therapy."

"Patients with difficulty walking, traumatic brain injury, difficulty utilizing typical and traditional equipment that we would have in the hospital" are the target audience for the post-rehabilitation program, he said.

Beginning April 20, the aquatics therapy will be offered on Wednesday afternoons at the Family Y. It is not to be confused with the aquatics classes already being offered by the Y, he said. Nor is it an isolated form of therapy, but will be used in conjunction with therapy in the rehabilitation office.

"We never have just aquatics therapy," said Beth Measamer, physical therapist who will spearhead the new program. "If they typically come twice a week, it would be divided, once on land, once on water."

Appropriate candidates must be referred by their doctors, then evaluated to determine what services are needed. Water therapy is advantageous to building a bridge to the more difficult exercises, Gibson said.

"We go a lot of relaxation and pain control," Ms. Measamer said. "Being in the water allows patients that can't move on land to begin therapy sooner."

Specifically, these would include total knee patients, those recovering from knee replacement, back pain, stroke, or other orthopedic situations. At the outset, patients work on work on balance, coordination and strengthening.

"This form of therapy will allow them to walk and move," she said. "It's less painful because of the heat of the water and it's easier to move in water."

Gibson said the combination of the water's buoyancy and the pool's being heated not only encourages relaxation, but increases circulation and range of motion on joints.

It also helps with pain control, Ms. Measamer said. Water takes away some of the weight-bearing aspect, reducing some of the patient's battle with gravity, she said.

"If they haven't walked in weeks to a month, all of a sudden you put them in a pool and they can walk," she said.

Ms. Measamer said aquatics therapy has been found to be successful in patients, often boosting the rate of recovery.

"You can pretty much see any patients as long as they're not afraid of water," she said. "Patients usually love it."

The combination of water- and land-based forms of therapy transitions to functional exercises the patient can do at home, Ms. Measamer said. It is important to get patients out of the pool as quickly as possible and back to exercising on the ground, she said, "because the land is where they live."

The hospital will rent the heated therapeutic pool from the Family Y. To get the word out, Gibson said, the hospital is advertising the service through area physicians. In addition, additional staff in his department will be trained in the alternative form of therapy.

"I'm anticipating this will really take off," he said.

To find out more information about the aquatics therapy or to set up an appointment for evaluation, people may call 731-6005.