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Avera Medical Minute: Aquatic therapy benefits stroke patients

 aquatic therapy in Marshall Minnesota
aquatic therapy in Marshall Minnesota (KSFY)
Published: Mar. 12, 2020 at 6:51 PM CDT
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Immersing yourself into a warm water pool is just what the doctor ordered. Glenn Mitzner of Balaton Minnesota says aquatic therapy has been transformative in his recovery from a stroke.

"I couldn't move my left side at all. When I went to the pool, well I gained some of that back and it's so easy to use the pool," said Mitzner.

And it's all with the help of aquatic therapist Ashley Holm.

"She's a good instructor and she catches me up on things I don't know because she lives in the same community as I do," said Mitzner.

With each step around the pool, his confidence is growing. They enjoy the chit chat as well. "I sometimes have to tell him to stop talking so we can concentrate. We can get back into talking after," said Holm.

Ashley is there to encourage him through the challenges and celebrate his victories.

"Well don't get me wrong, there's days of frustration, cause I wish I could make bigger steps but, somebody greater than us has a different plan for us," said Mitzner.

His family reminds him that really has come a long way, and aquatic therapy is a big part of it.

"A sense of ahhh, this feels really good. It kind of feels like a bath to them, it's 93 degrees, so that nice and warm factor calms that nervous system down," said Holm.

Ashley sees his determination and progress.

"The aquatic therapy was a good piece to put in there as he could move a little bit more freely, work on the range in motion with less pain for him," said Holm.

"It's nice warm water. The hardest part is getting back out and going out to the car and in the car to go home," said Mitzner.

Glenn knows the work is worth it because his coordination and strength are increasing with every session. "I can shuffle around without falling down now," said Mitzner.

On days when Glenn is not in the pool, you'll find him walking in the hallways at Market Street Mall in Marshall Minnesota. It's part of his therapy to walk on different types of surfaces

Last summer, Ashley helped Glenn achieve a goal to be a part of his beloved Balaton fire department. With her help, he could get up on the truck to be in the parade at Balaton Fun Fest.

Seeing her patients embrace life again is what it's all about for Ashley. "Physical therapy is very rewarding. We get to see the patient when they first come in and they're really struggling, and then we get to watch them as they grow and progress with therapy. It's very rewarding every day," said Holm.

Aquatic therapy can help patients with balance and coordination issues, as well as those with spinal cord injuries and patients struggling with pain.

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