HGB and Charlotte Aquatic Center partnership provide therapy benefits to many in mid-Michigan

Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital and the Charlotte Aquatic Center have a long-standing partnership that has benefitted the mid-Michigan community for nearly eight years. HGB Rehabilitation Services has provided aquatic therapy using facilities at the center since it opened in 2004.

"We were part of the team that helped design the Charlotte Aquatic Center," said Kim Dickinson, HGB director of health and wellness, who participated on the design team. "We were able to ensure the facilities would not only meet the community’s recreational needs, but our patient’s therapy needs as well."

HGB rehabilitation staff use the private warm water pool three to five days a week for one-on-one physical therapy. Anyone with a painful or limiting condition that affects daily activities can benefit from aquatic therapy – a doctor’s prescription is required. 

"I frequently refer my patients for physical therapy at the Charlotte Aquatic Center," said Dr. Barrett Zink, D.O., HGB Chief of Staff. "It is really helpful for patients with low back muscle spasms causing moderate to severe pain. The facility is excellent. In fact, vertical back traction can even be done."

The warm water helps relax muscles and joints, and actually decreases pain, Dickinson said. People are able to move with less pain and stiffness.

"In the warm therapeutic water there is decreased weight bearing on the back and joints, allowing the muscles to relax," Dr. Zink said. "Rehab also progresses much quicker in warm water than if done conventionally in a treatment room."

And patients who complete their therapy can continue to benefit from aquatic exercise by participating in the Encore group program that uses the same pool.

"Encore is perfectly named as a follow-up to physical therapy," said Craig Snyder, program participant. "The class provides expert advice when your health insurance has run its course or you have completed a therapy program."

Snyder’s wife, Cindy, has also experienced the benefits of aquatic therapy at the Charlotte Aquatic Center.

"Aquatics helped speed up my recovery from my injury," Cindy said. "We think the HGB staff are fantastic and wish we could attend aquatics therapy more often."

HGB Rehabilitation Services will continue to offer therapy at the aquatic center as long as the facility is open, Dickinson said. And now that HGB physical therapy operates out of AL!VE – the experience-based, destination health park in Charlotte that opened in late 2011 – HGB is considering other ways it can expand on that partnership.

"We are happy to have such a great community resource available to us," said Patrick Sustrich, HGB vice president of health and wellness, and executive director of AL!VE. "Not only because of aquatic therapy, but we have also been exploring the possibility of a joint membership benefit for HGB Wellness Center members and Charlotte Aquatic Center members, especially once the Wellness Center moves to AL!VE at the end of 2012."

And Sustrich believes there are other opportunities for AL!VE to work more closely with the aquatic center in years to come, in addition to using its high-quality therapy facilities.

Find more information about AL!VE at myalive.com and the Charlotte Aquatic Center at www.swimcharlotte.org. If you are interested in learning more about aquatic therapy, contact HGB Rehabilitation Services in Empower at AL!VE by calling 517-541-5800, option 2.