New water therapy offers patients relief

Dr. Bryan Gilreath leads Almetia Strother through a HydroWorx session.

HENRICO, Va. (WRIC) — For patients with certain joint conditions, traditional physical therapy can be downright painful if not impossible.  Now a new underwater treadmill is giving more of them hope and results.

HydroWorx gets patients, like Almetia Strother, moving with a lot less pain.

“I can move my joints more freely, have a bit more range of motion in the water,” says the long-time water aerobics instructor who jumped at the chance to try something new to ease the arthritis she has in her knees and back.

“They can get in the water and float, if you will, and reduce the impact on their joints when they’re exercising,” explains Dr. Bryan Gilreath, Manager of Therapy Services at Sheltering Arms Reynolds Center.  “Water up to the chest level takes about 75% of your body weight off, which really eases the impact when you’re doing exercises.”

He adds that Sheltering Arms just started using this system to offer patients another option.

According to the United States Bone and Joint Initiative, an estimated one-third of the U.S. population is treated for musculoskeletal diseases every year.  Not everyone can tolerate traditional therapy.

HydroWorx is gentle on joints, but Strother says she still works up a sweat.  Underwater cameras focus on form, and jets provide resistance and soft tissue massage during the sessions.

“The pool provides a lot of different opportunities for us to treat patients in a more efficient and effective manner,” says Dr. Gilreath.

Strother is satisfied with her progress.  “It gives you a big boost of confidence because you feel that what you couldn’t do on land you can do in the water.”

Dr. Gilreath says HydroWorx is suitable for patients of all ages, from the teenage to senior years.  It is especially helpful for patients before and after surgery, along with those suffering from fractures, arthritis, back or spine issues.  Sheltering Arms says HydroWorx is covered by insurance.

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