Therapy pool to bring patients relief

Amy Carton
Julie Theill demonstrates the treadmill feature of the new aquatic therapy pool.

A pain-free feeling people can get from being in water will soon be used by the staff in the Hammond-Henry Hospital rehabilitation department through aquatic therapy.

“I have been a therapist for 19 years, and prior to coming to Hammond-Henry, aquatic therapy has been a part of my program, so I have been advocating for it here since then,” said Hammond Henry Hospital director of rehabilitation services Julie Theill. “We have a lot of patients who the aquatic environment will be a great way for them to rehab. It will help get those patients to their highest level of function.”

The Colo Aquatic Center, named after donors Larry and Norma Colo, is set to open in Sept. 2011 and will feature a state-of-the-art HydroWorx 2000 pool.

This warm-water pool features an adjustable moving floor, underwater treadmill, hydro massage system and resistance jets.

The moving floor allows patients to safely enter the water without the assistance of steps or ladders, while the treadmill offers patients and athletes an opportunity to exercise virtually pain-free.

“Sometimes it is difficult for patients to rehab on land, so this rehab is unweighted and is less strain on the joints,” said Theill. “The warm water makes it so it is a comfortable environment to exercise in. It is an environment that people can enjoy being in.”

Through the buoyancy of the water, patients are able to move better without the fear of falling, re-injury or the pressure on the body as there might be with land exercises.

Properties of water, such as buoyancy, supports the joints allowing for movement with reduced pain, said Theill. Hydrostatic pressure helps to increase circulation and reduce swelling, which in turn will reduce pain almost immediately.

The hydro massage system allows for a deep therapeutic massage for sore and aching muscles.

The treadmill provides patients with resistance during  various range of motion exercises, while the resistance jets helps build strength and endurance.

The pool also is equipped with two water cameras, which allows therapists to view the patient’s form and also can be used to document progress for insurance purposes.

“The aquatic environment is an atmosphere that patients and athletes truly enjoy,” said Theill. “This facilitates a positive attitude and is advantageous to the healing process. We are fortunate to have the ability to bring aquatic rehab to Geneseo and the surrounding communities. Its impact to enhancing therapeutic outcomes will be tremendous.”

Some common diagnoses which would benefit from aquatic therapy include patients with knee joint replacements, hip joint replacements, rotator cuff repair, ACL repair, arthritis, low back disorders, post stroke disabilities, Parkinson’s disease and fibromyalgia.

Along with the benefits of reduced pain and swelling, other benefits of aquatic therapy include improvement in range of motion and flexibility, strength, balance and coordination, joint health, circulatory and respiratory function, cardiovascular function, functional mobility, sensation and safety and confidence.

Aquatic therapy is ordered by the patient’s physician and not every patient is right for aquatic therapy, said Theill.

“Having the aquatic therapy creates a diversity and gives us the opportunity to work with patients from pediatrics to seniors,” said Theill. “They can experience things in water that they can’t on land.”

“The support from the community is overwhelming and there were so many donors to the project,” said Theill. “To have access to this, that I feel is so important, is amazing.”

“Through the generosity of the Colos, we were able to do this,” said Hammond-Henry Hospital Foundation manager Darcy Hepner. “They have been wonderful and great donors. This was a dream, and Larry and Norma stepped forward as donors.?Without them we couldn’t have done this.”

“I did cardiac rehab a couple of times, and Darcy told us about the pool and we decided it was something we wanted to help with,” said Larry Colo. “I have a very bad back, and I know this will be very beneficial for those people coming in with injuries.”

The Colo Aquatic Center is located in the new addition of Hammond-Henry Hospital as part of the new Outpatient Rehabilitation Center for Excellence.

Donors Larry (left) and Norma Colo pose for a picture on the pool treadmill during a tour.