Hydrotherapy Helps Improve Mobility - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Hydrotherapy Helps Improve Mobility

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Animals are an important part of life on a farm and ranch. And that holds true for Clint Strommen and his family. Clint was diagnosed with merosin deficient muscular dystrophy when he was three months old.

"One of his goals has been to be able to reach up and pet a horse," says his mother, Sheyna Strommen.

He doesn't produce enough of the muscle protein merosin, which makes his muscles very weak,  so weak that he can't overcome the effects of gravity. So, the everyday movements that we take for granted can seem impossible for Clint.

"On any given day he has a lot of break down in his muscles, so it's like he runs a marathon every day," says Sheyna.

While he loves to ride with his dad, he can't manage it alone. He needs to get stronger. And that's what he's doing here.

Clint and his therapist, Michelle Olson, are regulars in the hydrotherapy pool at Sanford Medical Center.

"When I put him in the water, that helps to overcome gravity. He has a feeling of weightlessness, so we can get some strengthening. And he doesn't have that fear of tipping over," says Michelle.

Also, his muscles can contract, or tighten up painfully, and he can have trouble breathing. The water helps with all of those things.

"It helps with the lungs. The compression of the water helps get all that gunk out," says Sheyna.

Clint is two years old now, and he's developed enough strength to sit up. But, he can't walk yet, or kick or throw a toy. In the water, he can do those things more easily, and that makes him more confident. And here's the best part:

"He doesn't know he's working. He's just swimming and having fun," says Sheyna.

All of this helps Clint to feel like any other kid. That's the goal for pediatric occupational therapist Michelle Olson, who has learned how to think like a kid herself.

"Kids' primary activity is play. So, you have to be willing to put yourself out there and just play, whether it's jumping, splashing, the movement you want to see come out of their little bodies," says Michelle.

Arlene Stephenson's goal is different. Rather than working to develop muscles held down by gravity, she's trying to hang on to the range of motion she was born with. The range that arthritis has slowly taken away from her.

"It's hard getting around, up and down the steps. It hurts. Sometimes it hurts a lot," says Arlene.

Arlene has always been active. In fact, she was doing water aerobics when her knee popped out more than 20 years ago. Since then, osteoarthritis has made everyday activity a challenge. When she comes to the hydrotherapy pool, she not only gets exercise, she gets the benefits of the warm water.

"It soothes you," says Arlene.

"Arlene came with goals of increasing her range of motion and decreasing her pain. She lives alone so she wants to put off having surgery. She is meeting all of those goals," says Jamie Crane.

It's also great to work out with friend, people who are going through the same things. So, it's a social outlet as well.

She may not be having as much fun as Clint, but both of them tend to leave here with a smile on their face.

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