NNUH hydrotherapy pool increases services for children and adults

For the first time since Covid-19, our hydrotherapy pool is at full strength, offering rehabilitation treatment to children and adults alike.
The pool which closed during the Covid-19 pandemic has also extended its services to offer ante-natal sessions for women experiencing pain and discomfort during pregnancy.

The treatment pool is set to a balmy 34.5C with eligible patients referred by physiotherapists across Norfolk and Waveney. Typically, patients who use it have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, shoulder pain, or pain from injuries or surgery. They attend a set number of sessions in the pool with a physiotherapist according to their needs.

“This is a fantastic treatment option we have which can bring huge benefits to our patients,” said Claire Howlett, Physiotherapy Service Lead.

“The benefits of hydrotherapy are well documented. The water supports you so there is no stress or impact on the joints. That means we can start rehabilitation much more quickly than if we were waiting for their recovery using more traditional methods of physiotherapy.

“The heat of the pool is important too. It is much more relaxing so patients move more freely, and we can use it in strengthening and increasing the range of movement in the joints.

“The evidence also tells us that the quicker you can start treatment, the quicker you can increase strength which reduces the risk to the patient of further injury, and they are able to get on with their lives or return to work more quickly.”

A large focus for trained physios using the pool is to empower patients to go on to manage their ongoing recovery and maintenance. Patients usually have four sessions with a physio in the water followed by a review of their condition. They are then encouraged to continue independently with a programme they are given to do on their own.

Paediatric patients tend to have more physios in the water and can have up to six sessions before a review, depending on the needs of the children. The paediatric service provides treatments for children with complex needs who often need one to one sessions in the pool, and also for little children who are non-swimmers.

Grace Howes, four, from Norwich, has Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1, which means she has weakened limbs, particularly her legs. While she cannot walk unaided, she can sit up independently and benefits from hydrotherapy sessions, which she loves.

“Using the resistance of the water to help her, the sessions are very beneficial in building up strength in her legs as she can kick and move about independently. It also gives her freedom from being held,” said her mum, Rebecca.

“Grace loves going for these sessions and loves being in the water. The team make it fun for her, so she is not really aware that she is working hard. She is very tired after the sessions because she does work so hard.

Claire added: “The beauty of this service is that it is very patient-focused in that the number of sessions is set by the needs of the patients.”

Rebecca and Luke are now looking to adapt their home so Grace can be more independent at home. They have set up a fundraising page for her which is now open to the public to support.

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