A Waldoboro physical therapy clinic installed an endless pool and swim spa with an underwater treadmill in December, and the new features are proving popular with clients.
Staff at Sheepscot Bay Physical Therapy, at 1607 Atlantic Highway (Route 1), use the pool’s swim current and underwater treadmill to assist patients through aquatic therapy.
Owner Jean Beattie, a physical therapist and doctor of physical therapy, and Margo O’Neal, a physical therapist assistant who is certified in augmented soft tissue mobilization, are becoming accustomed to working with the endless pool and recognize the strengths it brings to the Waldoboro clinic.
Beattie said the pool’s current is a useful tool in building a patient’s strength.
“When you’re swimming in the pool, it can be hard to keep from getting pushed up against the back, and with the tether, people swim against the current and it creates resistance,” Beattie said.
The endless pool measures 7 by 15 feet and contains approximately 1,700 gallons of water.
Beattie said the pool was purchased from Mainely Tubs in Scarborough. She was happy to be able to purchase the equipment in state and support a Maine business.
Beattie said there were two options, a smaller and a larger pool, and she elected to go with the bigger version to accommodate the underwater treadmill.
O’Neal said the larger pool benefits patients as well.
“Having a little extra space helps patients to have more mobility and range,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal said she was excited to have the opportunity to assist in patients’ physical therapy with the endless pool and spa.
“I love being in the water. The pool helps us to give patients mobility. It’s one more tool for the toolbox we have available to offer them,” O’Neal said.
She said a big advantage of the pool is that it gives therapists a comprehensive setting for their work.
“I like the pool because it’s so diverse. You can treat from head to toe,” O’Neal said.
Beattie said she was happy to bring the endless pool to Sheepscot Bay Physical Therapy.
“I think the pool is very beneficial to our patients. It’s something extra for us to help patients with,” Beattie said.
Beattie said therapists work with the patients in the pool with the therapist getting in first and then assisting the patient as they use wooden steps to enter the pool, a process where the patient sits on the edge of a pool and swings in with assistance.
O’Neal said being in the pool with the patient allows therapists to get the most out of the endless pool.
“We correct form and technique, and if anything happens, we are only inches away,” O’Neal said.
She said there is also a safety button on the pool to be used to shut things down in case of an issue.
Beattie said the pool is the only one of its kind in the area that she knows of.
“I had contemplated (the purchase) for a couple of years. There’s not one around, to my knowledge, with a swim current and a treadmill,” Beattie said.
Beattie said aquatic therapy through the endless pool has many applications and benefits, including promoting relaxation for patients, improving flexibility and range of motion, helping give patients a better sense of balance and coordination, and increasing strength with easier movement.
O’Neal said the treadmill is uniquely useful in building up a patient’s strength when it comes to balance.
“They can use the treadmill in the pool, work on their balance, and not have the fear of falling down so they can build up their confidence for when they’re out of the pool,” O’Neal said.
She said the hydrostatic pressure in the water helps with circulation and swelling.
O’Neal said the pool can be used by patients recovering from a variety of conditions, including balance deficits, low back pain, spinal cord injuries, total knee or hip replacements, and shoulder, knee, hip, or ankle pain.
She said the pool has proved popular with all ages and is regularly used by the clinic’s staff.
“They love it. The pool has gotten excellent reviews,” O’Neal said.
Beattie said the pool features a rowing machine for patients to build upper-body strength while in the water, resisted swimming with a swim tether, and handrails for safety during use.
Additionally, Beattie said the endless pool is a useful tool to build core and trunk stability.
She said the buoyancy of the pool allows patients to increase their range of motion due to the fact that they are not fully weight-bearing while in the pool.
O’Neal said the therapy pool has therapeutic hydro-massage jets for muscle relaxation, which can have an effect similar to that of a soft tissue massage.
She said the water in the pool can be set at specific temperatures, usually 94-96 degrees, to promote optimal results during physical therapy.
She said patients with arthritis can benefit from warmer temperatures in the therapy pool, while multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease patients benefit from cooler temperatures.
In addition to the general benefits of the pool, Beattie said it would be useful to competitive swimmers.
“It’s ideal if we had any swimmers who needed to rehab. You couldn’t ask for anything more exercise-specific,” Beattie said.
To schedule an appointment, call 832-5544.