By Tina Ray/ParaglideApril 9, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Sergeant First Class Nathan Bannerman spent an hour Monday morning working out in the pool at Tolson Youth Activities Center.
Bannerman participated in an aquatic therapy program offered as part of the Wounded Warrior Sports Program.
Aquatic therapy is designed to improve the strength, flexibility, endurance and socialization skills of wounded warriors, said Teresa Shields, instructor and the Warrior Activity, Recreation and Sports coordinator for Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
Bannerman, who suffered a stroke last October, said he has been making a good recovery.
"I needed something to challenge me more and they figured aquatic therapy was a good one. I like it so far," he said, on day one of the program.
Bannerman listened as Shields gave instructions on how to stretch using the pool's ledge for balance and how to shift weight to decrease stress of joints.
The water's buoyancy helps support the patient's weight until he or she regains strength to use flaccid muscles, said Shields, who provided lots of advice and tips to the warriors.
"Drink lots of water today," she told them. "The pressure of the water helps your kidneys to process so you may feel you have to go to the bathroom. That's normal."
Staff Sgt. Timothy Conley has been in the Warrior Transition Battalion for almost nine months.
With shrapnel injuries on his face and shoulder and a back fused with rods following two overseas deployments, Conley said he believed the aquatic therapy would help.
"It's outstanding. It's lovely. It's the only thing I've been able to do so far that didn't really hurt me," said Conley.
Aquatic therapy gives wounded warriors an opportunity to become comfortable with their lives and about themselves following rehabilitation, said Karen White, Fort Bragg Sports, Fitness and Aquatics athletic director.
"This program is unique to MWR, to the Army and the benefit is obviously to the Soldier," White pointed out. "These guys give their all to us and it's the least we can do to get them back into society," she said.