Imagine physical limitations disappearing into a pool of water…literally. Columbia Basin Hospital’s water therapy program is helping people improve their quality of lifeBy Rosalie Black One of the joyful moments of life
is the realization that happens when you can do with your body, what you never thought was possible. We like to think of ourselves as limitless. Injury, age or illness can quickly bring our feet back down to earth from our limitless notions. This decline of health can be afleeting instant, where one quick twist can put our body out of commission. Another way our body can disappoint us is through an illness that caused a slower weakening of what used to be a fully capable you. At any rate, the limitations that we develop through life can prevent us, or even our children, fromhaving a desirable quality of life. Range of motion can be affected, posture, and simple tasks such as walking, can bring us immense pain, affecting our every day tasks. Now imagine those limitations disappearing into a pool of water… literally. Columbia Basin Hospital’s water therapy puts ease back into the step of their patients, and they do itwhile taking the pain out of the affliction and injury. Dr. John Miller, DPT, expertly does this in their therapeutic 92 degree pool, while seeing incredible results improving the quality of life for patients of all ages. The vision of this program is really centered around helping the community. Those whose lives are touched by the therapy, are walking billboards for the success of the program. When someone feels a drastic change in their standard of health, it makes sense that they would want toshare it. The staff has seen so many patients passionate about sharing what made them whole. The cherished community of Ephrata has tremendously helped support the achievement that the program has developed. With the success the water therapy has shown in the patients of Columbia Basin Hospital, there are still many that haven’t heard yet about this amazing aquatic tool being used for therapy right in their backyard. One might wonder what makes this program so effective?
Besides an incredibly talented director and therapist, it works simply because the water provides you range of motion that you simply just can’t have on land. Imagine you can’t walk without hunching overdrastically. Gravity has taken a hold of your body, and on land, seems to pull you closer to the ground with each step. Simple reaching, andposture is a challenge for you. Imagine stepping into the heated therapy pool, and gravity melts away as you become weightless. Your body starts to straighten, and you are now confident in standing up straight in a virtually painless environment. This is an achievement that land therapy can’t offer. The most common treatment used is that of rehabilitating injuries. Maybe it’s a broken bone, or an injury that requires surgery. This might include (but not limited to) knee replacements, hip replacement,and foot and ankle surgery. Envision having a foot or ankle surgery, and being able to start the therapy process by walking on it a week later. That is something you couldn’t do with basic land therapy. The buoyancy of the water provides a weightless environment for you to heal in. The water provides resistance in motions that isn’t provided on land. According to Dr. Miller, studies show that rehabilitation time is an estimated 35% faster to get someone back to their normal way of life. All this just by exercising the patient in the water, rather thanoutside the water. He demonstrates the therapy best by explaining, “The density of the water provides a constant, accommodating resistance so that your muscles have to work harder, but on the same token they are supported by the water.” This support the water gives, has helped victims of stroke, andeven paralysis. When patients have partial or full paralysis, Dr. Miller, will get in the water with them for the therapy. He expressed the confidence that the water gives to all who come in contact with it once inside the pool of water. They are actively doing things they might have never deemed possible, so it’s easy to picture where that confidence could boost the morale of the patients; patients ranging from all ages, from Junior High, to the mature 90 year old.
One of the most interesting things that make Columbia Basin Hospital’s program unique, is that they have a treadmill in their pool. This treadmill gives great strides within their therapy program. There are also many other items within the pool area that aid in the healing process. Items that help provide resistance. Pieces ranging from leg weights, flotation devices, and interesting objects that are built with different levels in mind for each unique patient. The passion that surrounds the people that work in this environment can be summed up in one word… compassion. In conversation, I felt the love for their patients. When speaking of some of the milestones they have seen in just over two years of the water therapy, you see faces light up just at the mention of these accomplishments. You feel the humanity in the program itself, and see that they treat it as more than a job. They see what they are doing as a mission. A mission that involves changing the quality of life for those that can live in less pain. It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of taking care of yourself when it involves the least amount of suffering in the journey. It’s important for a person of any age to see the strength and beauty that their body is capable of. The process of water therapy at Columbia Basin Hospital is proving just that by showing people just how much they can do.
Written by Rosalie Black
Images by Rosalie Black
Entire Article originally appeared in March 2016 Issue of Venue Magazine
Digital Version of Print Issue March 2016