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Thread: Water Therapy-what was allowed and when?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Waterloo, IL
    Posts
    1,707

    Water Therapy-what was allowed and when?

    My surgery is 2 weeks from today and I've gone through a roller coaster of feelings lately, mainly due to people questioning my sanity for having this surgery, since I'm not in pain. One can only hope he/she is making the right decision based upon the surgeon's recommendation and factual information concerning scoliosis.
    I have been enjoying classes at our new Y for the past few years (bodyworks, intervals, tap dance, spinning, etc.) and recently have been kind of sad thinking that I won't return to these classes for a long time, if ever. Naturally, I have good friends from these classes who I see several times a week. I was talking to one of my instructors yesterday and she convinced me to meet her at the pool today (which I have avoided since I'd have to wear a swimsuit in front of people I know). The water felt great today and I'm sorry that I haven't taken advantage of it until now. The instructor will work with me following surgery when I get the okay from my doctor, however, she isn't familiar with spinal fusion exercises. Does anyone have a list of do's and don'ts for the water? I know I will see physical therapists in the hospital, but I don't know if they would be familiar with water therapy. I am excited that I will be able to do something in addition to walking. If you had water therapy, do you remember how long after your surgery you were allowed to start it and what it involved? Naturally, I won't do anything without my doctor's permission.
    Thanks!
    Merry Christmas to all of you caring people from the forum! Happy healing in the New Year!
    Karen

    Surgery-Jan. 5, 2011-Dr. Lenke
    Fusion T-4-sacrum-2 cages/5 osteotomies
    70 degree thoracolumbar corrected to 25
    Rib Hump-GONE!
    Age-60 at the time of surgery
    Now 66
    Avid Golfer & Tap Dancer
    Retired Kdgn. Teacher

    See photobucket link for:
    Video of my 1st Day of Golf Post-Op-3/02/12-Bradenton, FL
    Before and After Picture of back 1/7/11
    tap dancing picture at 10 mos. post op 11/11/11-I'm the one on the right.
    http://s1119.photobucket.com/albums/k630/pottoff2/

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Ames, Iowa
    Posts
    1,250
    Karen--I started water physical therapy at about 3 months I think it was. This was in conjunction with our local hospital--92 degree water--felt great. It was really helpful. Much different from my regular water aerobics but a valuable first start back to exercise. I think you would want to try that first. Janet
    Janet

    61 years old--57 for surgery

    Diagnosed in 1965 at age of 13--no brace
    Thoracic Curve: 96 degrees to 35 degrees
    Lumbar Curve: 63 degrees to 5 degrees
    Surgery with Dr. Lenke in St. Louis--March 30, 2009
    T-2 to Pelvis, and hopefully all posterior procedure.

    All was posterior along with 2 cages and 6 osteotomies.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    7,012
    Hi Karen...

    Every doctor has different restrictions, so you should check with your surgeon to be certain. In general, the restriction for the first 3 months is no bending past 90 degrees (For those of you challenged by that description, it means you can only bend at the hips. E.g., if you're seated, you should not bend forward at all.), no twisting, and no lifting more than 5-10 pounds. That's pretty restrictive in terms of water aerobics, but you could modify the exercises to stay within your doctor's guidelines.

    You might want to check out the vests that are made for water walking. It's great exercise, and you can't imagine how good it feels just to hang in deep water after surgery.

    Regards,
    Linda
    Never argue with an idiot. They always drag you down to their level, and then they beat you with experience. --Twain
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Surgery 2/10/93 A/P fusion T4-L3
    Surgery 1/20/11 A/P fusion L2-sacrum w/pelvic fixation

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Chelsea, MI
    Posts
    53
    HI Karen,
    I haven't gone into the water yet, but when I saw Dr Lenke for my 12 post op appt, he encouraged me to do some pool exercise. I already have some pool PT exercises I was given when I had PT last year, mostly simple leg and arm movement, walking in the water, etc. I bet if we called Dr Lenke's office, we could ask the physical therapist there to send or email some print outs of appropriate water exercises.
    Thinking about you!
    Nancy
    Age 58
    Surgery w/ Dr Lenke August 23, 2010
    original curves 91 thoracic, 86 lumbar
    fused T1 to sacrum, new curves 50 and 45

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    4,018
    Karen

    I didn’t do water therapy, but I would suggest finding a “warm” water therapy pool, maybe at a swim center. They will usually keep the kids out....Cold water, especially if on meds can be a little overwhelming and not feel too pleasant.

    Range of motion is probably the most important thing....staying active.

    Swimming will feel strange at first, but like all the things we have to adapt to in our recoveries, things slowly return to normal in time.

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 60, the new 55...
    Pre surgery curves C12,T70,L70
    ALIF/PLIF T2-Pelvis 01/29/08, 01/31/08 7" pelvic anchors BMP
    Dr Brett Menmuir St Marys Hospital Reno,Nevada

    Bending and twisting pics after full fusion
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...on.&highlight=

    My x-rays
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...2&d=1228779214

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...3&d=1228779258

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Waterloo, IL
    Posts
    1,707
    Ed,
    I swam laps today at the pool at our YMCA and the water felt great. I was surprised at how warm it was. An instructor today thought water therapy after my surgery would be good, however, I won't do anything until I have a physical therapist from Barnes Hosp. and Dr. Lenke give the approval along with recommendations for exercises. I'm sure it will be many weeks down the road for me, yet something to look forward to doing during my journey of getting strength and muscles back after the surgery. Walking outside isn't too promising with our winters here, but I've made arrangements to walk in the a.m. and afternoon at the school where I teach.
    Thanks for all of your encouragement during the past year.
    Karen

    Surgery-Jan. 5, 2011-Dr. Lenke
    Fusion T-4-sacrum-2 cages/5 osteotomies
    70 degree thoracolumbar corrected to 25
    Rib Hump-GONE!
    Age-60 at the time of surgery
    Now 66
    Avid Golfer & Tap Dancer
    Retired Kdgn. Teacher

    See photobucket link for:
    Video of my 1st Day of Golf Post-Op-3/02/12-Bradenton, FL
    Before and After Picture of back 1/7/11
    tap dancing picture at 10 mos. post op 11/11/11-I'm the one on the right.
    http://s1119.photobucket.com/albums/k630/pottoff2/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    791
    I was allowed water therapy at 6 months. It felt great getting into the water. First session, I overdid it and was so tired that I could not get out of bed the next day. Sessions felt great but I did not notice any improvement afterward.

    Hope they will work for you

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Carlyle, IL
    Posts
    52
    Dr Lenke told me at 9 wk postop appt that I was allowed to do pool exercises now. As I live in no mans land and we have no indoor pools (exception of the motel 8, lol) I didn't inquire as to what that intailed. He did however tell me that I could start bending exercises, forward and back and gradually lifting more close to the body, using good judgement. He did make sure to tell me no twisting yet. HTH
    Heidi
    35 year old mother of 2 lil girls
    60 degree thoracic
    44 degree lumbar
    Oct. 11, 2010 surgery
    Dr. Lenke St. Louis
    1 year follow up: 15 degree thoracic, 22 lumbar
    fused T1 to L1


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Pa
    Posts
    31

    I love water thrapy

    I started water therapy @ 9 weeks . We have a rehab w/ a pool. the warm water is awesome. We started walking only (backwards and side also). Now doing shoulder resistance w/ "noodle" and also just moving arms under water gives you good resistance.
    I started floating + treading water in the deepwater about 3 weeks ago with a float belt .It really helps take the gravity off your back and gives some nice relief.
    Don't overdue because you wll fatigue. I still take a nap when I get home.
    I hope you can find aPT to give you the guidance,they should be able to research it for you.
    I also take a whirlpoolbath at every chance I get.

    Good Luuck w/ your surgery
    51 yo
    dx 13 never braced
    DJD and osteoporosis ,Fx ribs 10/09(from osteo) downhill since,vertebral slippage w/ nerve damage and rotation
    Surgery 08/09/10 T1-S1 decomp,fusion w/ instrumentaion
    Sacral/pelvic fixation + 4 osteotomies and dura repair
    C 20 degrees to 4 degrees
    T 57 degrees to 15 degrees
    L 38 degrees to 5 degrees

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    791
    .

    Good Luck w/ your surgery

    Thanks

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Waterloo, IL
    Posts
    1,707

    Wet swimsuit

    I am lucky we have a pool at our y which is 6 miles from our house. I have no idea when I will want to ride in a car to get there, however, I am now looking forward to the warm water.
    There are only really low benches in the locker room, so I can't imagine how I could possibly get a wet suit off. Any suggestions other than putting on a jogging suit over the wet suit and letting hubby help me out of it when we get home?

    Thanks for the good luck wishes for my surgery in 10 days!
    Karen

    Surgery-Jan. 5, 2011-Dr. Lenke
    Fusion T-4-sacrum-2 cages/5 osteotomies
    70 degree thoracolumbar corrected to 25
    Rib Hump-GONE!
    Age-60 at the time of surgery
    Now 66
    Avid Golfer & Tap Dancer
    Retired Kdgn. Teacher

    See photobucket link for:
    Video of my 1st Day of Golf Post-Op-3/02/12-Bradenton, FL
    Before and After Picture of back 1/7/11
    tap dancing picture at 10 mos. post op 11/11/11-I'm the one on the right.
    http://s1119.photobucket.com/albums/k630/pottoff2/

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    791
    Quote Originally Posted by golfnut View Post
    I am lucky we have a pool at our y which is 6 miles from our house. I have no idea when I will want to ride in a car to get there, however, I am now looking forward to the warm water.
    There are only really low benches in the locker room, so I can't imagine how I could possibly get a wet suit off. Any suggestions other than putting on a jogging suit over the wet suit and letting hubby help me out of it when we get home?

    Thanks for the good luck wishes for my surgery in 10 days!
    I do not know what levels you are being fused. I am fused T2- sacrum. Is there no handicapped accessibly ? Our Y has a family changing area. What about bringing a light weight folding chair ? I was able to take the bathing suit off by myself . It took me a Little while to do it but it did come off. I used my grabber and the suit came off
    Melissa

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    1,163
    Hi Golfnut,

    I have been an avid swimmer for 6 years, and I really ramped up my swimming before surgery to get in the best shape possible. I was swimming 7 days a week for 90 minutes. After surgery I was anxious to get back to the pool, so I asked my surgeon, who thought it was a great idea. I was allowed to return to the pool at 3-1/2 weeks, which was 10 days after the staples were removed.

    The first day I was very nervous about being in the water, and wasn't sure if I could get into my suit myself. The good news was I had no trouble putting on my swimsuit, and I did not sink to the bottom of the pool! The first two weeks or so I went in the warm therapy pool, which is 91 degrees. I started out with walking and then tried using the kickboard. At first I was extremely slow and could only do 10-15 minutes, but within 2 weeks I was ready to try the regular lap pool. BTW I had no trouble showering by myself and removing my wet swimsuit.

    I am now almost 11 weeks post-op, and I have made huge improvements at the pool. I go 6 days a week, and I swim laps and kick with the kickboard continuously for 45-60 minutes. I try to do 80 laps, which is about 1.25 miles, per day. Some days I do a little more but I've noticed I'm sorer the next day, so I'm still working to increase my daily yardage. My daily goal is to swim 100-120 laps, which is what I was doing before surgery. I can tell my fitness and endurance is improving on a weekly basis.

    One side note about the warm water therapy pool. I noticed after about a week that I was getting extremely dizzy during my warm pool workouts if I went over 10-15 minutes. At that point I was ~4 weeks post-op, and not having any other trouble with dizziness. After a few days of this I tried swimming in the big pool (which is about 81 degrees) and I had no trouble at all. I realized I was getting dizzy because I was overheated. Just something to keep in mind.

    Good luck, and I am sure that you will find a way to return to many of your favorite activities post-op.
    Gayle, age 50
    Oct 2010 fusion T8-sacrum w/ pelvic fixation
    Feb 2012 lumbar revision for broken rods @ L2-3-4
    Sept 2015 major lumbar A/P revision for broken rods @ L5-S1


    mom of Leah, 15 y/o, Diagnosed '08 with 26* T JIS (age 6)
    2010 VBS Dr Luhmann Shriners St Louis
    2017 curves stable/skeletely mature

    also mom of Torrey, 12 y/o son, 16* T, stable

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Waterloo, IL
    Posts
    1,707
    Gayle,
    Thanks for your post. I am amazed at how quickly you were swimming laps. I wish I had worked out in the pool more before now. I think I am in decent shape from my y classes but I am no way close to where you were pre surgery.
    Karen

    Surgery-Jan. 5, 2011-Dr. Lenke
    Fusion T-4-sacrum-2 cages/5 osteotomies
    70 degree thoracolumbar corrected to 25
    Rib Hump-GONE!
    Age-60 at the time of surgery
    Now 66
    Avid Golfer & Tap Dancer
    Retired Kdgn. Teacher

    See photobucket link for:
    Video of my 1st Day of Golf Post-Op-3/02/12-Bradenton, FL
    Before and After Picture of back 1/7/11
    tap dancing picture at 10 mos. post op 11/11/11-I'm the one on the right.
    http://s1119.photobucket.com/albums/k630/pottoff2/

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    York, PA
    Posts
    332
    I have always been a swimmer and was given the OK to get back in the water and walk at my 6 week check up. However, I didn't feel ready (including dealing with changing, walking on the slippery pool deck, etc.) until about 9 weeks post-op. The first few times I just walked up and down the lanes and did some very gentle floats and kicks. Was still limited on twisting motion so no freestyle or anything that was too strenuous. The water felt wonderful although you did get some odd sensations at first--like things were tugging a little bit. By mid-summer, I was back to swimming my mile of laps, just somewhat slower. I had no PT at all and honestly, even now wish I could find someone locally just to help me learn to exercise and stretch the right way. I feel totally recovered from surgery but am fighting weight gain and know I need to get some more strenuous exercise. Anyway, the pool worked really well for me and I think you'll know when you're ready for it. Best of luck to you. I know it has been a long wait.


    Anne in PA
    Age 58
    Diagnosed at age 14, untreated, no problem until age 50
    T4 to sacrum fusion
    63 thoracic now 35, 92 lumbar now 53
    Dr. Baron Lonner, 2/2/10
    Am pain-free, balanced, happy & an inch taller !

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