Hydrotherapy sessions to help people with neurological conditions

The Bolton News: Hydrotherapy sessions take place at Bolton One Hydrotherapy sessions take place at Bolton One

THE sensation of being immersed in water is perhaps an experience that most of us take for granted.

For people living with neurological conditions, that sensation through hydrotherapy can offer pain relief, physical rehabilitation and emotional respite.

The Bolton Neuro Voices has been fighting for access to hydrotherapy sessions for the past year to help improve the quality of life for those with long term neurological conditions.

There are about 50 neurological conditions which can include multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, motor neurone disease, spinal injuries and stroke.

In Bolton there are about 50,000 people living with a neurological condition — 5,000 of whom are disabled.

Out of those, 1,700 require help with most daily activities, from simple things such as tying shoelaces to transport to services and amenities.

Bolton Neuro Voices has gone from strength to strength since being set up by Marie Oxtoby to represent those living with neurological conditions.

It also runs the highly successful hydrotherapy courses at Bolton One.

Mrs Oxtoby, chairman of Bolton Neuro Voices, says hydrotherapy sessions have had a huge positive impact for people in Bolton.

Mrs Oxtoby, who wrote the first survey by the Parkinson Disease Society during the 1970s, said: “This group is vital in providing a voice for everyone with neurological conditions.

“Hydrotherapy is a great example of what we can do together and has benefitted a huge range of people.

“We have seen people stand for the first time in 10 years and even seen a man start talking again.

“It’s not just the physical benefits. We had an overwhelming response about the social impact on their lives.”

Caroline Hall, aged 35, from Horwich, suffered a spinal stroke last year. She says the hydrotherapy session have enabled her to keep active.

Ms Hall said: “Before I had my stroke, I worked full-time and walked my dogs every day. That was how I kept fit, but that’s all changed now.

“For people like me, I can’t just go swimming or even have a bath because it is so excruciatingly painful. However, in a hydrotherapy pool, it feels wonderful to be immersed in the water.”

Netty Stuart, from Heaton, has post-viral chord syndrome and central pain syndrome, which affects the control of the nervous system and affects her mobility.

She said: “The great thing about this hydrotherapy course is that it’s something for you. It has been difficult for me to qualify or access certain services in the past because, although I am disabled, I am still quite independent.

“All people with neurological conditions want is the same access to services as everyone else.

“We want to help ourselves and keep active. We’re not asking for charity off anyone, we just need support. And that’s why I loved the course. It just gives you that push to stay active and cope with the pain.”

Ian Flint, from Morris Green, lost the use of his right side after having two strokes.

He also has Type 2 Diabetes but has managed to lose four and half stone through a combination of work with the Riteweight Team and hydrotherapy sessions.

Mr Flint, aged 64, said: “It’s only through hard work and perseverance that I have got to this stage where I can speak again. When I found out I had diabetes I had to lose weight and start exercising with the right side of my body again.

“Taking part in hydrotherapy helped me think about the things I can do, rather than the things I can’t.”

Maria Sale, aged 58, from Little Lever, has ME.

She added: “It can be quite an emotional experience for a lot of people like me who have started hydrotherapy.

“Some people have not had the experience of being in the water for years and, when they come here for the first time, it can be quite an overwhelming experience.”

The hydrotherapy courses are five weeks long, with five 20-minute sessions a week, and are run by physiotherapy staff and volunteers.

At the moment, the project is funded by the Bolton Small Grants Fund, the Provincial Walsh Trust and the All Big Lottery.

Mrs Oxtoby is hoping to win support for the group from the NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and extend their programme of hydrotherapy courses.

For more information about Bolton Neuro Voices, call: 01204 594004.

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