May 18, 2009
Friendship Retirement Community has expanded its outpatient therapy with a warm-water pool devoted to physical therapy, helping patients improve their recovery from injuries and illness.
The hydrotherapy pool, at Friendship's outpatient therapy center on Hershberger Road, is designed exclusively for therapy. At between 90 and 92 degrees, the pool is a good 10 degrees warmer than standard pools, making therapy easier on the body and more enjoyable.
"The temperature itself makes it more comfortable for patients who are in pain to exercise," said Sara Ruhlman, a physical therapist and manager of Friendship's outpatient therapy center. "The heat also increases circulation, which helps to increase flexibility of joints, and warmer water helps patients relax."
The pool includes a hydraulic lift and submersible platform to accommodate wheelchairs and underwater steps with benches for sitting and climbing. There's even a resistant swim jet for patients to swim or walk in place against resistance as a way to improve strength and balance.
Hydrotherapy is used for one-on-one therapy as well as small groups to help people recover from surgery or injury. As part of a broader rehabilitation plan, pool therapy is especially helpful when a patient is in too much pain or can't tolerate exercise on land.
"The water makes it easier to move," Ruhlman says. "Hydrotherapy is a tool to progress to greater functional level with less pain."
Joyce Jones, a Friendship physical therapy patient, certainly agrees. She's in the water twice a week to help treat fibromyalgia and diabetes.
"We do exercises on my arms and legs and walking in the water is much easier for me," Jones says. "The benefits I receive from water therapy are improved mobility and less pain. I'm able to use muscles I wasn't able to before. When you have limited mobility, getting in the water is easier on your joints and you get a lot of benefits. Your body feels better and you feel better."