Catastrophic Injury Studies

Skier with Multiple Fractures - Vicki

Objective

Improved mobility following a skiing accident which resulted in double breaks and fractures to the left tibia.

Background

Vicki was left unable to walk without crutches following a serious skiing accident. Post surgery the oedema around Vicki’s wound was preventing any form of pre injury movement.

Programme

  • Duration: 45 minutes
  • Water Temperature: 34˚C
  • Speed: 0.1 to 4.0kph as sessions developed
  • Depth: 1200mm lowered to 800mm
  • Resistance Jets: Activated to relax calves
  • Direction: Forward
  • Number of Sessions: 6

Outcomes

Vicki completed a programme of 6 aquatic therapy sessions (45 minutes each). In these sessions the treadmill's lowest starting speed of 0.1kph was essential to assist Vicki due to the severity of her injuries. The ability to set the water to a precise depth enabled the buoyancy to be decreased as sessions progressed and her strength developed. The front handle was used by Vicki for support while heel toe movement was gradually restored.

Vicki's confidence grew as her mobility increased. Hydrostatic pressure and restoration of pre-injury movement helped to release the oedema around Vicki's wounds.

Road Traffic Accident Rehabilitation - Mary

Objective

Rehabilitation from injuries sustained in a road traffic accident.

Background

Mary sustained multiple injuries in a road traffic accident, leaving her with walking difficulties and other severe problems. Previously very active and leading a full life. A former horse riding instructor, she had taken horses for hydrotherapy and already understood the benefits. She felt it would enhance her treatment plan, which included extensive physiotherapy and regular walking.

Programme

  • Duration: 30 minutes per session
  • Water Temperature: 31˚C
  • Speed: 0.3 to 5.5kph as sessions developed
  • Depth: 1200mm down to 1130mm
  • Resistance Jets: Not activated
  • Direction: Forward
  • Number of Sessions: 22

Outcomes

Focusing on retraining her gait to achieve a more natural walking pattern, also on building her muscle strength and stamina after losing a significant amount of fitness. Starting at a slow speed with the water level high, this gave Mary plenty of support and the confidence to really push herself. The water provides the ideal environment for rehabilitation as balance can be maintained and weak limbs supported, while resistance increases the intensity of the exercise.

Mary commented about the temperature being 'perfect' and from a therapy perspective, the constant 31˚C helps to relax muscles and relieve pain during training. Also, when exercising, Mary mentioned that she experienced swelling in her right leg, at the hip, knee and ankle, but had noticed that it doesn't happen in the water – this is due to the hydrostatic forces applying pressure to the legs, encouraging circulation, and preventing excess fluid buildup.

Mary's progress continues but she has now gone from the constant use of two sticks down to one stick for longer walks, she no longer sleeps downstairs as she can cope with the stairs, and her mood has been boosted by her significant achievements.

Thoroughly enjoying her underwater treadmill sessions, Mary commented that this therapy has been a 'deal breaker' in her rehabilitation and 'the best thing she's ever done'. Totally committed to her recovery, she worked extremely hard to get her life back – the worn-out tread of her aqua shoes is testament to this.

Rehabilitation After War Injury - Andrew

Objective

Rehabilitation after a blast injury to the thigh.

Background

Andrew sustained a blast injury whilst serving in the British Army in Afghanistan. He suffered serious injuries to his left thigh, including severe soft tissue, muscle and nerve damage, which has left him with on-going knee pain and restriction of movement.

Programme

  • Duration: 30 minutes per session
  • Water Temperature: 31˚C
  • Speed: 2.8kph
  • Depth: 1180mm
  • Resistance Jets: Not activated
  • Direction: Forwards and backwards
  • Number of Sessions: 18

Outcomes

Andrew had weakness in his left leg and constant nerve pain, which in turn affected his posture, causing back and neck issues. He was on two crutches to mobilise, struggled with activities of daily living, and felt fatigued and lacking in motivation. In the HYDRO PHYSIO Treadmill the focus was to normalise his gait pattern, strengthen the lower limbs and improve core stability. In the Wellbeing Pool Andrew performed exercises such as sit to stand, step-ups and more core work, to build strength and fitness.

Andrew, a keen sportsman, began playing wheelchair basketball and his hydrotherapy sessions were adapted to include some sport-specific exercises. Andrew went on to win gold at the Invictus Games.

Motorbike Accident Recovery - Russell

Objective

Rehabilitation post accident.

Background

Russell sustained serious injuries to his hip and spine following a motorbike accident.

Programme

  • Duration: 30 minutes per session
  • Water Temperature: 32˚C
  • Speed: 1.00kph gradually increased to 4.7kph
  • Depth: 1200mm down to 1000mm
  • Resistance Jets: Not activated
  • Direction: Forwards and backwards
  • Number of Sessions: 46 (2 per week)

Outcomes

Russell undertook a programme of 46 aquatic therapy sessions (two a week), complemented by some land based physiotherapy to rehabilitate from his injuries. These sessions involved him completing various exercises in both the HYDRO PHYSIO treadmill and the WELLBEING therapy pool.

The weight-bearing effect and buoyancy of the water experienced by Russell meant moving in the treadmill was significantly less painful than on land. This aquatic therapy allowed him to build up supportive muscles and core strength to promote faster recovery. On completion of his programme we are pleased to report that Russell is now able to walk without crutches and feels that he’s well on the way to making a full recovery.