Hydrotherapy helps patient to swim again

Case study - How hydrotherapist Manuela Maxwell helped a lady to swim again after having had a stroke.

Our clients’ physiotherapy targets are as individual as they are. That’s why our team of physiotherapists, between them, offer such a breadth of therapies delivered using a range of equipment, techniques and facilities. But just as important is the ability to work at our clients’ pace and in a way that suits them.

The achievements of one of our clients illustrates this beautifully. Sports rehabilitator and hydrotherapist Manuela Maxwell explains how she helped a female patient who wanted to learn to swim again following a stroke.

“Penny had been having swimming lessons with a local instructor because, in her own words, she had been a very poor swimmer all her life. She was making good progress but had to stop when she had a stroke in January 2017,” says Manuela. 

The stroke left her weak all over her left side and her left arm was paralysed. It was 18 months before she felt ready to get back in the water and she was referred to The Physiotherapy Centre for help with improving strength and movement in her upper and lower limbs.

Manuela continues: “Confidence is a big issue for physiotherapy clients, particularly after something as profound as a stroke and perhaps even more so in the water. For this particular client, things like putting her face in the water did not come naturally to her.

“Having a dedicated hydrotherapy pool on site, set at a comfortable temperature means we can work completely at our patients’ pace and give them the hands-on support and encouragement they need.”

Manuela says it was really important to ensure her client always felt safe in the water, to be patient and calm and ready with new ideas to try exercises and techniques in different ways. By working with her abilities, Manuela started by helping Penny to swim on her back. 

“Manuela’s endless patience and good ideas to make me safe in the water have paid off,” says her happy customer. “At the beginning it was a big deal to push off from the side on my back. Now I feel comfortable on my back - although I don’t always go in a straight line so sometimes need direction to avoid fellow swimmers!”

The next step will be for Penny to swim on her front. Manuela’s patient finds this stressful and she needs to draw on her strength to get a good lunge forward to get going but she is already seeing progress and managing a few strokes of doggy paddle.

Although Penny is only part way along what will be a long journey and she may have some limited range and some tonal problems, she can continue maintaining her standard through exercise which she can do safely on her own or in a class environment. Manuela’s client confesses to not always enjoying what was a huge personal challenge but feels a sense of achievement when she looks back at the progress she has made so far.