AquAbility’s therapeutic aquatic program is for veterans and active members of the Armed Forces with disabilities. The program benefits veterans during initial recovery and rehabilitation, and provides them with skills and a year round program to continue their aquatic exercise. AquAbility provides a positive, social environment and encourages camaraderie. In addition to physical and cognitive improvements, benefits include increased self-esteem, body image acceptance, and adaptation and acceptance of newfound physical limitations. Exercise is a documented modality for stress management and is related to positive mental health.
AquAbility works with veterans with no contraindications to exercise and who have clearance from their physician to participate in an aquatic program for rehabilitation, health and fitness. AquAbility adapts water exercise techniques to each client’s physical condition and ability. One cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining a high fitness level for amputees or paralyzed clients because of the increased energy required to perform activities of daily living. Idaho Veterans Administration Therapists refer patients to the AquAbility program.
Initially, the client’s experience and comfort in the water environment is assessed. They are acclimatized to body position and balance in water, adapting to loss of limb, paralysis, brain injury, etc., and learn to exercise in water with the challenges they present. We employ a variety of accessory devices and equipment as needed for floatation, breathing, and increased muscle strengthening to create the stability and body position necessary to achieve the greatest level of exercise and efficiency possible.
Some clients may choose to compete in swimming at US Masters meets, at the Warrior Games or in Paralympic events, finding the thrill and challenge of competition and all of the joy that success in sport can offer, both mentally and physically.
Combat veterans are a highly trained group of individuals. They are accustomed to being in excellent physical shape and it is part of their psyche. Being able to rediscover this aspect of their lives post-injury is a valuable part of their rehabilitation process.
October 1, 2016 – August 30, 2017 the AquAbility program is funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.