Aquatic therapy provides rehabilitation in a comfortable environment
Cheryl Dufour has spent the past month taking dips in the pool after work – but her time in the water is for rehabilitation not relaxation.
Dufour is participating in aquatic therapy at Cox Medical Center Branson to ease pain associated with her spinal stenosis. Aquatic therapy provides a specialized form of rehabilitation in a comfortable, yet challenging environment.
“It feels good on the body,” says Danielle Boehm, a physical therapy assistant with the medical center’s Outpatient Physical Therapy Services. “The 94-degree water relaxes muscles, reduces compressive force through joints, increases blood flow and allows for easier motion with less pain.”
Dufour says she feels like a new person after her pool sessions.
“I stand up straighter and the pain is virtually gone,” says Dufour, who recently completed her first 5K walk. “I can’t tell you how much this has helped me, and the girls here always make it so fun!”
The comfort and freedom provided in the water leads to functional strength gains and less pain for patients with ailments such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, lower back problems, chronic pain, muscle strain and ligament sprains.
Boehm says working out in the water has been a big hit with her other patients, too.
“They love being able to move and strengthen in a comfortable environment,” she says. “I often see them gain self-esteem and be more willing to participate because they can move around better in the water then they can on land.”
The pool is equipped with an integrated treadmill and underwater video monitoring system that allows therapists to closely evaluate a patient’s progress.
“I can see up close how they’re landing their steps,” says Emily Conover, a physical therapy assistant at Cox Branson. “This program is hard work. It makes them use muscles they don’t use on land. It’s always fun seeing how triumphant they feel after a session in the pool.”
Dufour can definitely notice the progress she’s made. “I used to have to hang on to the side of the pool but look at me now. No hands!”
Patients who are interested in aquatic therapy will need an order for physical therapy from their doctor. They will then receive an evaluation from a physical therapist before pool sessions begin. For more information, contact Cox Branson’s Outpatient Physical Therapy Services at 417-335-7274.