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There's Something In The Water....

Updated: Mar 7

I had a haemorrhagic stroke in 2022 and spent four months in ICU and four months in neurological rehab. After a few months at home, I decided to incorporate something different into my rehab routine.

I've been able to swim since I was a child, and I thought it would be a good way to build my stamina and work towards rebuilding my core muscles. 

I automatically assumed it would be like it was "pre-stroke", and instead, had to use a noodle even to stand. I've been having lessons and started by walking and moving side to side whilst using a noodle. When I mastered this, I progressed to swimming with noodles. After a few months, I can now swim a half-length (roughly four times) with a noodle and a quarter-length (roughly four times) without a noodle.  

One of the many benefits of swimming for me is not only strength and fitness but it's worked on the problem of proprioception. Proprioception affects parts of your body where your brain no longer connects with them due to damage from any type of neurological injury. Therefore, you don't know what your affected limbs are doing and struggle to control your limbs. My left side has been affected, and learning to swim again means having to control both sides of my body simultaneously. 

Neuroplasticity is when the brain forms new pathways after damage (such as a stroke). Swimming has worked well for this, as there are many things to focus on simultaneously. This includes correct technique, general safety, and overall concentration on many aspects. 

Having had a trach and been on a ventilator for a long time, as well as being asthmatic, my lung capacity has been relatively diminished. Going swimming has helped my fitness, so I am constantly working to improve my breathing.
Sometimes, hydrotherapy is used for stroke survivors. I could not do this in rehab due to building work, so I began swimming at home. Improving my overall fitness, cognitive skills, and breathing technique by swimming has been one of the most worthwhile rehab activities. I recommend it for people who are having any surgery, especially for neurological injuries.
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