Joel Walks in Water -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine


Hydro Physio

Joel Walks in Water

One of the most heart warming stories to emerge from our venture is that of Joel Pitman who suffers from cerebral palsy. Joel’s parents, Debbie and Gary, had seen the canine version of Hydro Physio at Linhay Veterinary Centre and immediately realised that they had seen something with a potential to really help their son gain mobility. But it was with understandable trepidation that, a few months later, they brought Joel to our Hydro Physio headquarters in Shropshire to see whether the treadmill would live up ­to their high expectations. The anticipation was heightened by Joel’s own excitement at the thought of using our Hydro Physio unit. “As our visit drew near, I was more than a little nervous as I knew how disappointed everyone would be if the experience failed to live up to expectations”, explained Debbie. “But our concerns were unfounded. As soon as the treadmill started, Joel’s face was a picture of elation. After twenty minutes we asked Joel if he would like to rest but he clearly wanted to carry on. He has never been so eager to exercise before”. Gary eventually had to coax Joel to stop exercising with a promise that, after a brief rest, he could have another twenty minute session in the Hydro Physio unit before he went home. “It was cool” says Joel, “I was very excited before I got onto the treadmill. I felt confident and I felt better as soon as I started exercising. I go walking in the swimming pool and I do enjoy that but I don’t feel like a normal person. This made me feel terrific”. The feelgood factor was supported by Debbie’s observations: “The glass sides of the Hydro Physio unit are designed to enable progres­­­s to be clearly monitored and, in the controlled environment of the tank, Joel’s knees did not appear to be knocking and his stride length was good, something that can’t be achieved on land where he must wear long leg splints to help him stand.” “Seeing Joel through the glass of the tank and walking with ease was fantastic. His gait was still crouched because his hamstrings have tightened over time (Joel is awaiting a corrective operation). But with the water in the tank supporting him he felt total freedom and just wanted to go on and on. He felt that he was walking as freely as everyone else”. Perhaps the final word should go to Joel who was still feeling the benefits a few days after his visit, when he said to his mum: “I am feeling so much lighter and looser since using the Hydro Physio unit”. Whether or not forty short minutes of exercise really had provided long term physical benefits is almost inconsequential. It had certainly had a positive psychological effect on Joel Pitman.