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Patient treated in hydrotherapy pool on ventilator in QA first

Hydrotherapy pool
Patient treated in hydrotherapy pool on ventilator in QA first
30 September 2019

The Hydrotherapy Pool at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham (QA) has been in place for over a decade, providing invaluable physiotherapy for patients. This water based treatment is a focus of our Working Together campaign, highlighting our Trust value of Always Improving through QA patient Linda Geer. Linda defied odds by becoming the first patient at the hospital to use the hydrotherapy pool while still attached to a ventilator.

67-year-old Linda was brought into QA after being diagnosed with a severe case of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a very rare and serious condition that mainly affects the feet, hands and limbs, causing problems such as numbness, weakness and pain.

Improving a ventilated patient’s care through hydrotherapy at such an early phase of their recovery was not usual practice at QA, and this innovative idea was led by Susan Calvert, team lead physiotherapist at the hospital, with vital support from the critical care team. Susan has been based on critical care for 7 years, and holds over 14 years of experience in rehabilitating patients.

Susan says: “Linda started to see a return of the movement in her muscles as her nerves begin to repair. We wanted to start utilising the muscles that are getting these signals through, but they are weak as they haven’t been used in some time. When a patient like Linda is still ventilated, this is when they are most in need of the psychological benefits the warm water provides, and also the support and buoyancy that the water provides to the patient’s limbs. The Hydrotherapy Pool allows the patient to use their muscles through their full range of movement, without gravity getting in the way.”

The hydrotherapy pool service is provided by Solent NHS Trust, and Susan has been working on this exciting development alongside Physiotherapy Clinical Specialist Claire Jeffries and Physiotherapist Laura Papineau, both based within Solent NHS Trust.

Claire, who has over 18 years of experience leading the hydrotherapy service, explains: “The warm pool water can help to relieve any pain and muscle spasms that patients may get. We can also utilise different properties of water, such as buoyancy to assist movements, but then quickly progress on to muscle strengthening and functional re-education work against the buoyancy and drag of the water.”

Linda has made fantastic progress through using the pool, however the benefits of the Hydrotherapy Pool during critical stages of illness are not just physical. Staff have noticed a positive change in Linda’s outlook on life.

Susan explains: “The Hydrotherapy Pool has psychological benefits for a patient who has spent a long time in that plateau phase. It’s the eternal not being able to do a single thing and being in a bed looking at the same ceiling tiles day in, day out that is difficult. The pool puts a patient into a completely different environment.”

Linda says: “I feel on top of the world and would recommend hydro to anyone in the same situation [as me]. When I came back to the ward I felt so relaxed, full of smiles and I felt more confident in my own ability and reassured that I could move my limbs. Hydrotherapy made me feel there was light at the end of the tunnel.

“I felt very confident in the staff that helped me and I can’t thank them enough and I would say to anyone to have confidence in the staff that look after you.”


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Queen Alexandra Hospital
Cosham, Portsmouth
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