Taking to Water: Warm-Water Therapy Can Aid in Healing

A benign brain tumor was causing Caryn McLaughlin of Lincoln to have seizures and stumble. After it was removed, her left side was paralyzed from the shoulder down.

As soon as she was able, Caryn began warm-water therapy at Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital – an option for patients with everything from arthritis to balance problems and from athletic injuries to post-surgical range-of-motion issues.

Caryn’s recovery took place in two hospitals and then three nursing homes. She’s been through occupational and physical therapy. Her two grandchildren – ages 3 and 2 – have inspired her to stay determined. But it was water that finally had the biggest impact on her healing.

“I love it here,” Caryn said with a smile as she performed a series of pool exercises. “This has been a miracle for me just to do some exercise. I can’t do anything else without my walker. This has helped so much, and it relieves my back pain.”

After completing two months of therapy that began in May, Caryn now takes part in a bridge program that allows ALMH patients to return and do those same exercises on their own with a lifeguard present.

“When patients come in for their initial evaluation, we may decide then that they can benefit from warm water therapy, or if they aren’t making progress in the gym, we make modifications and do those exercises in the pool,” said Elise Anderson, a physical therapy assistant and one of three on the rehab staff who are water safety certified.

ALMH has been able to offer warm water therapy on site since the new hospital opened in March. Memorial’s SportsCare in Springfield will soon be offering it at the new west-side YMCA, which is set to open Nov. 14.

“We are using this pool every hour we can, pretty much,” Anderson said. “You can use the water to strengthen and aid in the range of motion. To unload the joints in here, the results are just amazing when you carry it over on land.”