WHEATLAND – North Platte Physical Therapy has added a new therapy to their docket, water therapy at Heartland Inn and Suites on 16th Street in Wheatland.
Since October, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., therapists see patients in the warm, blue water of the hotel pool. They work on rehabilitating injured or surgically repaired joints or sometimes work to regain muscle mass and mobility that was loss due to arthritis or other ailments.
“I’m here to work on my lower body and strengthen my knee that’s been acting up,” said current patient Linda Shelton. “The water helps with balance and makes my hips more flexible.”
“Water offers buoyancy, so when patients who have had surgery first start to put weight on the injured joint they can actually start building up muscle and mobility without pain,” explained physical therapist Whitney Balzan. “The hotel does a good job in keeping the water warmer for us so it is comfortable to work in. We truly appreciate Heartland giving us this opportunity.”
Working in water also works the core muscles as those are needed to keep the feet underneath the body and staying upright in the pool. Sometimes ankle weights are used to help with that issue. The water takes away the pain that working injured joints on land can cause. And it’s not just for the lower body, it can help with neck, shoulder and wrist problems as well as Fibromyalgia.
Different exercises are utilized for different benefits. Just walking in the water is helpful as it creates resistance without stress so patients can get a cardiovascular workout without pain, but still gain the benefits of exercise.
“Any exercise is as hard or as easy as you want based on how fast you move in the water, direction or even how you hold your fingers together or spread apart,” Balzan demonstrated. “I like how creative you can be and how it’s possible to find an exercise for any body part.”
Patients have a larger range of motion in the water and don’t have to be concerned with injury. Building muscle mass in the water will make a body better able to tolerate movement on land. It’s still strengthening, just without as much load.
“It’s wonderful and I’m an expert since I’m from Thermopolis and spent 20 years exercising in the hot springs,” said participant Darlene Bowlware. “It’s for my knees and arthritis, it doesn’t hurt when I’m in here.”
As of now, to participate in water therapy you must first see a doctor with any problems you suffer from and the doctor can refer you to North Platte to see a therapist and be evaluated on dry land to determine if water therapy will benefit you. They are hoping to start a water aerobics class that would be open to anyone for a monthly fee. If interested, please call North Platte at (307) 322-1878 to have your name put on a contact list. They will also be putting information up on their Facebook page.