Husband, Father, Dow Retiree and Aquatic Fitness Fan
“I don’t think I’d be as vigorous as I am today if I had not done therapy. It certainly improved my quality of life. No question about it.”
Aquatic Therapy Graduate Maintains His Good Health with Water Workout
In 2005, Walt Rupprecht was in a serious automobile accident. His left hip was fractured in several places, his pelvis was shattered and his aorta was torn. Walt was in a coma for a month and spent another six weeks recuperating in the University of Michigan Health System hospital where he was initially treated.
“The aorta was a serious issue but it could not be repaired quickly,” Walt said. “Everything else was fixable, but the aorta repair had to wait until I was more stable.” He said the truth behind the old maxim “use it or lose it” was evident. “I was essentially in bed for two months and was shocked at how quickly atrophy kicked in. It was frightening.”
Walt started physical and occupational therapy while still in Ann Arbor. After he came home to Midland, his left hip was replaced. “After that, it was a matter of recuperating,” he said. “I started therapy in 2006. The overall professionalism and friendliness of the staff was great and certainly made it easier. I had traditional land therapy and water therapy and I really liked the water therapy.”
Walt likes aquatic therapy so much that now, seven years after starting therapy, he is still a regular in the pool at Rehabilitation Services at MidMichigan Medical Offices–Campus Ridge 1.
“The staff here is really good and very helpful,” he said. “Robyn and Kathy have been grand to work with. I know the therapists can help with a lot of problems because they understand the musculoskeletal interrelationships.”
After his formal physical therapy sessions ended, Walt took advantage of the transitional program offered at Rehabilitation Services. “I just stayed with it beyond the transition – now it is maintenance,” he said. He has a regular routine that incorporates stretching, strengthening and a cardiovascular workout. “Working out in the water puts less stress on the joints and also adds resistance in some cases so it offers the best of both.” Walt’s wife, Joanne, works out in the water as well. She joined him two years ago on her doctor’s recommendation when seeking relief for a back problem.
Walt is disciplined about his routine. “I’m here twice a week, usually in the morning,” he said. “I treat it like a job; one of the benefits of the job is it keeps me healthy.”
Eight years after the accident, Walt is doing very well. “The only lasting issue is some nerve damage in my left leg that results in an occasional bit of toe drop,” he said. “If I know I’m going to be standing for a long time I wear compression stockings and take a cane. It’s just a matter of common sense.”
At 84, Walt is fit and healthy but he does not take his health for granted. “After the accident, I came back to Midland right before Christmas,” he said. “The following June, I could finally tie my own shoes again. That was a really a big thing for me. Tying shoes is something people do without thinking. Believe me, when you can’t do it, you think about it.”
Walt said successful therapy requires discipline and patience. “It takes time; the payoff is not immediate,” he said. “I tell people not to be discouraged. You have to keep at it; you have to keep doing it.”
The outcome is worth the effort Walt said. “I don’t think I’d be as vigorous as I am today if I had not done therapy. It certainly improved my quality of life. No question about it.”
Aquatic therapy programs at MidMichigan provide the opportunity to improve quality of life through exercise in warm water. Aquatic therapy allows people to experience forms of treatment that are not possible on dry land.
Aquatic therapy is provided in one-on-one sessions. The program has specific goals that are designed to achieve the best results possible. No swimming skills are required, but you will need a physician's order.
Patients who are independent in their exercise program but want to continue using the therapy pool should consider MidMichigan's transitional program. There is a modest fee for transitional programs.
Aquatic therapy is available at MidMichigan facilities in Alma, Clare, Gladwin, Midland and Mt. Pleasant. For more information about MidMichigan's Rehabilitation Services visit www.midmichigan.org/rehabilitation.