Veteran Ken Mandrell had been in for leg and shoulder therapy in the past with VA services, but this time around, he was introduced to a new type of therapy being offered by the Marion, Illinois, VA.
“Doing therapy in the pool is a lot easier than walking with gravity. When I had leg surgery in the past, my legs were bruised and there was a lot more pain,” says Mandrell about his aquatic therapy. Even though he has only been in aquatic therapy for a couple of weeks and is still getting used to it, the benefits of strengthening muscles underwater are evident.
For Army Veteran Mandrell, aquatic therapy had been suggested prior to his surgery in efforts to shorten the amount of therapy needed post-surgery.
“In the water, our patients can do exercises that they can’t do on land” explains physical therapist Marsha Capel. “Aquatic therapy can be helpful for Veterans with arthritis, trying to decrease pain and increase their value of life,” says Capel.
When a patient comes in for a physical therapy appointment, they get evaluated and referred to aquatic therapy. They can get aquatic appointments anywhere from 2-3 times a week for 6 weeks and then they get re-evaluated by the physical therapist to see what adjustments need to be made, if any.
“We may be focusing on the patient’s lower back for these exercises but the patient gets help for the arms and legs too, one of the benefits of pool therapy” explains Capel. The same exercises that patients are asked to do on land are better tolerated in the water.
Veterans interested in learning more about aquatic therapy, should ask their physical therapist about the possibilities of including this type of therapy to your treatment.
About the Author: Williams Martinez is a Public Affairs Specialist at Marion VA Medical Center