Hundreds of people flock to Leitchfield Aquatic Center every week to enjoy the sparkling water, the fun water features and spend time in the sun and open air. They probably don’t realize that the facility is also being used to help people recover from arthritis, multiple sclerosis, balance deficits, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, knee and hip joint pain, back pain, fibromyalgia, and osteoporosis.
Randy Aitken, 67, is a retired firefighter from Venice, Florida. Originally from Chicago and now living in Leitchfield, injuries forced Randy to retire from firefighting. When he was told by several doctors that surgery was his only option, Randy resisted. With the help of the staff at Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center’s physical therapy department, Randy is finding the help he needs without the trauma of surgery.
On a recent sunny morning in July, TLRMC Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Ashley Moore put Aitken through a series of exercises in the water at the Leitchfield Aquatic Center.
“One of the main benefits of aquatic therapy is the buoyancy that the water provides the patient,” said Moore. “While in the water, our body feels much lighter than it would on land. The water gives support when the patient’s muscles and joints are not able to support much weight. This allows them to complete the exercises much easier than they normally would be able to.”
Amanda Fentress from the TLRMC rehab department also works with patients in the pool.
According to Moore, another benefit of aquatic therapy is the water resistance a patient experiences while in the pool for therapy. “Air resistance is much less than water resistance, so patients exercising in the water use many more muscles than they would by exercising on land.”
One feature of having therapy at the new pool is the selection of water depths that provide different resistance for different exercises.
Therapists have patients walk upstream in the Aquatic Center’s “lazy river” to provide even more resistance.
Water resistance helps to improve the patient’s strength and balance, something Aitken can attest to. “When you go against the flow, it really works on the legs. It’s different from regular physical therapy.”
TLRMC pays a fee to the city for the use of the pool in the morning before it is open for the public. The arraignment also provides for a certified life guard from the Aquatic Center to keep a watchful eye on the aquatic therapy sessions.
In addition to aquatic therapy, Aitken has benefited from another unique therapy offered at TLRMC.
“Dry needling helped me greatly,” said Aitken. “Chris (Dr. Chris Fuller, PT) and Roger (Dr. Roger Davis, PT) are great. There is no pain to it, and the results are just amazing.”
According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), there is considerable research showing the value of aquatic therapy for many types of patients.
Randy Aitken would agree. “It has helped me regain a lot of muscle and strength back.”
People interested in finding out more about aquatic therapy or dry needling can call the TLRMC Rehab Department at 270-259-9469 or talk with their primary care physician.