NI physios take UK lead on aquatic therapy

NI physios take UK lead on aquatic therapy

Physiotherapists at a Northern Ireland hospital have become the first in the UK to introduce aquatic therapy techniques to treat critically ill patients.

One patient of Craigavon Area Hospital, who found himself completely paralysed from a rare auto immune disease, has been able to walk after only 20 weeks of treatment.

Gareth Galway started feeling tired and unwell shortly after returning from his honeymoon.

Within a matter of days he was totally paralysed and couldn't breathe unaided.

"I wasn't able to communicate. I had a breathing tube and I wasn't able to talk - paralysed head to toe and the pain I was going through... to try and communicate that was a living nightmare."

Gareth was diagnosed with a rare auto immune disease called Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Only able to blink his eyes to communicate, he found physiotherapy too painful and the team at the hospital were keen to try something new.

Physiotherapist Corrie Gracey told UTV: "The thing is he was still ventilated and a machine was making him breathe. There are practicalities of how that would work in a pool environment.

“You get into the water and suddenly he could see ‘hold on, I can move, there’s hope here, there is light at the end of the tunnel’.

“He was just so keen and physio became more positive and his improvement exponentially increased.”

Dr Charlie McAllister said: "We ask one of our doctors to get into the pool with the physiotherapist and with the patient to give reassurance and confidence.

“It’s hard to imagine what it's like day in and day out, not being able to do anything and be totally dependent.

“To be able to start to improve – it’s of great physical and psychological benefit. It’s a fantastic boost.”

For Gareth, this treatment has given him a whole new lease of life.

He added: “I would say it has been life-saving. I don't think I would have had the quality of life back again, so I'm just grateful.”

The Southern Trust is now advising on national guidelines and it's hoped more hospitals will try therapies like this in the future.

© UTV

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Comments (1)

Newest john in moira wrote (3 months ago):

Delighted to hear such a strong positive outcome for a change. go NI!

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