Aquatherapy in Wellsboro

WELLSBORO – Susquehanna Health’s state-of-the-art aquatic therapy pool is a lifesaver for patients who have difficulty with “land-based” weight-bearing therapies, said Dave Milano, director of physical therapy and rehab at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital.

The pool is inside the new rehab facility at 11893 Route 6, near the intersection of Route 6 and Mount Zion Road.

The facility is phase one of a two-phase project that will include physician offices in an adjacent portion of a 10,000 square-foot building, so orthopedic physicians will be “right next door,” similar to the way it was at the old offices on Water Street, Milano said.

“We needed to move out of that location because we outgrew it about a year ago,” he said.

He noted the demographics of the region, which include an aging Baby Boomer generation, are driving the need for more physical therapy-based treatment.

“Most of our patients have degenerative joint disease, total joint replacement, or back and neck pain,” he said, “but we can treat just about anything that comes through that door,” including trauma patients, such as spinal cord injury patients.

More than 1,000 patients a year are treated using physical therapy. Milano said, with the new facilities, he expects that to increase at least 25 percent to 30 percent.

The facility has five to six physical therapists on hand on a typical day, along with two assistants and five support staff, Milano said.

Because the pool, which uses an ultraviolet and chlorine system to clean and sanitize the water, has to be balanced correctly, it will not be ready for use until mid-January, Milano said.

Once they do start coming in for aquatherapy, patients either can get into the 15-foot square pool themselves by sitting on the side and swinging their legs over to step down two underwater steps to the approximately 4-foot depth, or by using a hydraulic lift seat.

The pool’s temperature is kept at 93 degrees.

Two or more patients can use the pool at the same time, depending on what they are doing, Milano said.

“The reality of the pool is it is far easier on people than land-based therapy, because (water) makes them buoyant,” he said.

The therapy pool has an underwater treadmill as well as two unique propulsion units that produce fully controllable and continuous water currents.

It all adds up to helping patients be “able to move again,” he said.

In addition to the pool, there are “land-based” machines for use, including recumbent cycles for treating the lower extremities and other “low-tech” equipment such as parallel bars and weight-bearing machines.

Private treatment rooms can be used, including one exclusively for those who need lymphedema treatment, he added.

Complete decongestive therapy, or CDT, treats challenging cases of chronic edema, which sometimes arises as a complication of radiation treatments, surgery or trauma.

“Our goal is to get people well for the activities of daily life,” he said.

For more information about physical therapy and rehabilitation services, call 723-0120.