Aquatic therapy is a valuable tool for patients with spinal cord injury. The use of aqua therapy has been found to improve strength, balance, functional mobility, spasticity, quality of life, and respiratory function for patients suffering from neurologic injuries. However, many patients with spinal cord injuries present with various complex comorbidities that could potentially complicate their participation.
Many institutions, out of an abundance of caution and due to limited research, restrict access to the aquatic environment for patients with spinal cord injuries requiring tracheostomies or mechanical ventilation. With advances in aquatic technology and pool safety, we now have the capability to create a customized environment for each participant with complex medical conditions to maximize the safety of a session.
Upon completion of the course, learners will be able to:
- Describe the safety and efficacy of treating patients with spinal cord injury with tracheostomy and ventilators in the aquatic therapy environment;
- Illustrate the medical management of the complex patient receiving aquatic therapy and discuss safety policies required, including staffing, positioning, and equipment needs; and
- Demonstrate the clinical application using various aquatic therapy techniques and provide relevant patient examples across ages and diagnoses.
Dr. Albert Recio is a physician in the paralysis restoration program at the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury (ICSCI), the medical director for the aquatics medicine program at Kennedy Krieger Institute, and an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. As Medical Director of the Kennedy Krieger Institute Aquatic Therapy Program, he oversees the clinical implementation of aqua therapy. His role involves providing excellent medical treatment to patients living with spinal cord injury, including those typically excluded from aquatic therapy, such as pediatric patients with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) who are ventilator-dependent.
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