SCKMC Introduces New Physical Therapy Program

South Central Kansas Medical Center recently began providing an alternative to the traditional physical therapy techniques typically associated with the rehabilitation process following injury. "Aquatic therapy" is a cooperative program between the medical center and the Arkansas City Aquatic Center allowing for treatment to occur within the swimming pool located at the Ark City High School.

Megan Graber is a physical therapist at SCKMC and has been working with aquatic therapy patients for more than four years. After joining the medical center in 2008, Graber recognized the opportunity for patients to benefit from this type of therapy and worked with the department team leader, Pattie Brown, to develop a program locally.

"It's a treatment technique we have to offer that other hospitals in the area don't. To me it's a huge benefit because we can improve the quality of life of these patients," Graber said.

Graber has worked with multiple patients since the program first began in February, and according to her, all have demonstrated significant improvements.

"I have a lady who walks with a walker on land, but I can put her in the water and she can walk for 100 feet," Graber said.

Although not every patient is a candidate for aquatic therapy, for those who qualify the service is said to offer a variety of benefits over traditional rehabilitative techniques. Because the activities occur in the buoyancy of water there is less stress placed on joints, blood flow increases, and there is a natural reduction in pain.

SCKMC provides two types of aquatic therapy, deep-water therapy where the patient is floating in a vertical position, and chest deep therapy where the patient is standing on the pool bottom. The type of therapy used is individualized for each patient's personal health goals.

"(Aquatic therapy) is a treatment technique for many different diagnoses, including balance problems and orthopedic injuries. Patients with arthritis or chronic pain have a really good diagnosis to put in the pool because it takes the pressure off the joints. The use of the water as a medium decreases the effects of gravity, allowing for more fluid movements," Graber said.

Aquatic therapy must be ordered by a patient's physician. For more information contact the medical center's physical therapy department at (620) 441-5899. In addition, Graber and Brown will be presenting more information on Aquatic Therapy during SCKMC's next Dr. Joe Know Health Education Seminar at the medical center on Tuesday, August 31st at 9:00 a.m. The free seminar is open to the public and a complimentary breakfast will be served.