Physical therapy, or PT for short, is a widely respected recovery process used to help patients rehabilitate medical conditions from surgery and movement disorders to strokes. There are hundreds of licensed physical therapists in the Augusta area. But did you know that adding aquatic physical therapy to your PT routine can supercharge your recovery or help patients who might not be ready for regular PT?
Brandon Wilde, a life plan senior living community in Augusta, is the area’s only rehab organization offering care by a trained aquatic physical therapy professional. “Brandon Wilde, with its saltwater pool, offers pre or post-surgery or stroke patients the perfect environment to get the right treatment,” says Dawn Sussman, Brandon Wilde Aquatic Physical Therapist. “The buoyancy effect created by the water is ideal for working through chronic pain. Whether you have a pinched nerve, sciatic or disc pain, hip or knee replacement, the density and resistance experienced by exercising in the water have multiple benefits.” Aquatic physical therapy also addresses those with a fall risk, balance disorders, cognition, muscle spasms, Neuropathy, and Complex Region Pain Syndrome. Those with cardiovascular and pulmonary issues also benefit from it.
At first, aquatic physical therapy patient M.L. Moye was skeptical, but after working with the Brandon Wilde team, he saw improvements. “I was diagnosed with a right foot drop which caused me to have balance issues,” says Moye. “I was not expecting many benefits, but quickly I found a significant positive impact on my balance issues. Falling in the pool was not a concern, and I didn’t worry about taking steps. After a few weeks of concentrated exercises, I improved my balance. I understand my balance did not recover to what it was in my 70s, but I am confident the therapy far lessened the risk of falling! At 86, I seek to maintain what I can do and remain healthy, upright, and mobile!”
Ursala Shaw uses the Brandon Wilde facilities outpatient and says aquatic physical therapy has significantly impacted her recovery. “Getting into the water was very helpful,” says Shaw. “I was trying traditional therapy, and it not only hurt, but it also made me feel worse. The aquatic physical therapy at Brandon Wilde was good for my injury and well-being. Since aquatic physical therapy, I could resume exercising without pain.”
Other benefits from aquatic physical therapy include strengthening muscles, reducing swelling, and relieving pressure on your joints due to hydro-pressure, adds therapist Sussman. “The water acts like a compression stocking, bringing nutrients to your body through your lymphatic system that helps you heal faster. We see people able to work to manage their pain with aquatic physical therapy. You can stand with more weight in the water, and it also helps patients regain and retain their balance.”
The certification process to become an aquatic physical therapist is unique and rigorous. “We are fortunate to have a wonderful trainer,” says Angela Ranier, Brandon Wilde COTA/L | Director of Rehabilitation. “Our aquatic therapist professional received her training through the Academy of Aquatic Physical Therapy. Having APTA training is like having the gold seal of approval. Therapists trained through APTA are experts in healing, and we are pleased to offer this kind of treatment to our residents and non-residents.”
Therapists recommend using aquatic physical therapy in conjunction with traditional land PT. The typical therapy program is 8-12 weeks, and specialized therapists like Brandon Wilde’s Sussman attest that you can see dramatic change over the therapy period. Water training is helpful, whether through pre-surgery treatments to get you ready to have surgery or post-surgery. Sussman wants to emphasize the outcome benefits of aquatic physical therapy for stroke patients. “It is a proven fact that if we can start a patient as soon as possible after a stroke, you can see a change in 8 weeks and substantial change in 12 weeks in their balance and movement.”
If you fear water, the therapy takes place in about 3 feet of water with a trained therapist by your side. Aquatic physical therapy at Brandon Wilde is open to the community and welcomes patients to its facility to work with their specially trained therapists.
We are so proud that the life plan community has been named Best Retirement/55+ Community in the Augusta Chronicle’s Cyber City Awards for 5 YEARS IN A ROW!