Nate Christopher has been a physical therapist in outpatient orthopedics for more than 15 years. He is board certificated as a Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist and a guest lecturer at Southwest Tech. Nate has also been involved in research projects regarding yoga and its impact on balance and fall prevention. He will serve as the certified aquatic therapist at the Mineral Point Therapy Center when it opens in August of 2019.
Many of us think of using a pool for recreation to play in the water or to cool off on a hot summer day, but did you know that exercise in water can be therapeutic? Exercising in water may help you get stronger, relieve pain, improve your balance and decrease your risk of falls. Upland Hills Health will soon be opening a therapy clinic in Mineral Point, and this facility will include a therapy pool.
Why aquatic therapy?
Aquatic therapy uses the properties of water to make exercise easier and more comfortable. These properties include:
- Buoyancy: Did you know that when you are in water up to your chest, you are only holding up 30% of your body weight? If the water is up to your neck you are only holding up 10% of your weight. By decreasing the amount of weight on your legs, you may be able to walk and perform exercise better and with less pain than when exercising on land. This is often helpful when people are recovering from broken bones, or when they need to get stronger. Athletes can use the water to get back to their sport faster by safely exercising injured muscles and joints.
- Viscosity: Water is thicker than air. Moving against the resistance of water helps you grow stronger. Special equipment can be used to make the work easier or harder. When you work on balance in the water, you have more time to react and correct your balance, so the exercise is more comfortable.
- Hydrostatic pressure: This is water pressing against your body. Hydrostatic pressure supports your body, increases blood flow to injured tissues, and promotes healing.
- Temperature: The warmth of the water helps you relax muscles that may be tight, tense, and painful.
What will our pool have to offer?
Our pool is state of the art. It is the same model used by many professional and college sports teams. The pool is 8 x 12 feet in size. It will be a “zero entry pool.” This means the floor of the pool raises and lowers so that you can walk directly from the pool deck on to the pool floor and be comfortably lowered into the water. We will have a wheelchair that can be submerged into the water, if needed. The pool floor is also a treadmill that can go from 0 to 8.5 miles per hour, so you may improve your ability to stand and walk. The pool is equipped with underwater cameras and a television on the pool deck so you may see yourself as you perform your exercises. The water will be kept at a comfortable 92 degree temperature.
Who can benefit from aquatic therapy?
People of all ages may benefit from aquatic therapy, especially if experiencing the following:
- Difficulty walking: if you need assistance to walk, or if you use a cane or walker
- Inability to stand on one leg: you may need to improve your balance and strength
- Weakness: if you that have difficulty getting up from chairs, going up and down stairs or have to take one stair at a time, you may benefit by increasing muscle strength
- Pain: If you have tried land-based therapy or exercise and had too much pain to continue, the pool may offer a gentle, less painful way to exercise muscles and joints.
Water therapy may help these common diagnoses or conditions: stroke, Parkinson’s disease, injuries of the muscles, bones, or joints, fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions, and those at risk of falls. Many people can benefit from aquatic therapy, from high level athletes to elderly population.
If you feel that you may benefit from aquatic therapy, talk to your doctor about getting a prescription. Our new Mineral Point Therapy Center will be open by September, 2019. We are excited to help you achieve your highest level of function.
Walking for exercise: When the pool is not being used for therapy, it will be open to the public for walking. Up to four walkers can be accommodated at a time. Walkers will need to have a brief evaluation to determine treadmill speed and tolerance to walking in the pool. There will be a fee to use the pool (to be announced). If you’d like to schedule your evaluation to be added as a walker when the pool opens, please call the Therapy and Wellness Center at 608.930.7147.
See a video of the pool in action and learn more about the Mineral Point Therapy Center, check out uplandhillshealth.org/mptherapy.