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Nov 24 2020 2:14 PM

Rehabilitation in warm water takes away the pain.


A warm pool….

  • Takes away pain
  • Allows weight free exercise for damaged joints
  • Swimming in a rhythm can be meditative, allowing your mind to take a break from the concerns of the day.
  • Swimming is good for breathing. More than one famous swimmer has taken up swimming to manage asthma.

I would not have discovered these benefits without having a serious accident. My chest was squashed. The doctors call this a “flail chest”, which is a gentle way of saying every rib was fractured down one side. There were other internal injuries and one knee had the medial ligament broken and the other ligaments damaged.

After 17 days prone in intensive care I could not stand up. Then I was transferred to the Repat Hospital and to the support of physiotherapists and many others, working as a team. The chest and knee pain were strong, but I did not want to continue the morphine style pain killers for six weeks.

I was taken to the pool via wheel chair each morning, had a splint put on my leg and then eased myself into the water. The pain ceased as soon as I entered the water, and I was able to begin a planned series of exercises. The idea of these was to expand my chest as the ribs healed and to build supporting muscles around the knee. While this knee was injured like footballers’ knees, surgery was out of the question. I was assured exercise would build me a functional leg.

So the pain was relieved, my breathing helped and my leg was on the mend. It all took ten weeks, and I could not drive for another four weeks. Then I returned to life with the unexpected consequence was post traumatic stress disorder. I had no idea about this. A RAH psychologist explained this to me. After I went home I was able to return to the REPAT twice a week for half hour sessions in the pool. This is called community swimming and former patients, or patients referred from outside can use the pool to exercise however they choose. I had continued support in a low key way, so without the splint I was encouraged to swim laps, improve my strokes and get mentally and physically fitter. All of this was rehabilitation in the purist sense, centered on the warm water.

The pool and the Repat Staff were the final pieces of assistance in returning me to life. Needless to say, ambulance staff, the emergency staff, the emergency surgeon and intensive care staff all kept me alive some times and did a professional, excellent job. It was important to respect their efforts and return to full fitness.

Sue Pryor’s pool is around the corner; a great asset in a country town. I can swim up and down, in clean warm water, in a space of my own, in a comfort zone, keeping fit in all ways.

So lucky to be here.

- Anonymous