I was able to chat briefly with my fantastic L’il Trooper this weekend! He said they were going to get in some pool time! Although it will not be at the pool pictured below, it will be cool and it will be wet!I might also add that the only therapy they will be engaged in, has more to do with holding each other’s heads underwater! It does my heart good to know that our boys are still boys!
1st Cavalry News
Pool therapy helps Black Jack Soldiers stay in the fight
By Sgt. Robert Yde
2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE PROSPERITY, Iraq – With the opening of Montpetit Pool last month, Soldiers from the 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division have had a daily escape from the summer heat.
While most Soldiers are making use of the cool waters for leisure, another group of Soldiers meet at the pool every Saturday morning to work through injuries sustained during the Black Jack Brigade’s current deployment.
“Normally in the states, where you have the gym with the pool, you always incorporate pool therapy,” explained Sgt. John Hart, a physical therapist tech attached to Company C, 15th Brigade Support Battalion. “It allows you to become more functional faster without compromising the rehab for certain injuries, whereas if you’re doing weights in the gym or standard exercises in the gym, there’s always that fine line where you can be doing the exercises and the next thing you know the patient has a setback because maybe the resistance is too much.
“Here, you already know that I can allow you to be functionally moving in the plane that I need you to be in and with the right amount of resistance that I need because the water allows that. I know if I have you doing squats in the water you will be in the same plane and you will not move because the resistance of the water is keeping you in a smooth line.”
Hart, a native of Chicago who worked at Reynolds Army Community Hospital at Fort Sill, Okla., before being attached to the Black Jack Brigade prior to its deployment to Iraq last fall, said that he and physical therapist, Capt. Matthew Larson, began using the pool for therapy sessions soon after it was opened in July.
“The thing about the pool is that it adds a different element to the exercise,” explained Larson, who is originally from Lincoln, Neb. “It’s something that’s a little bit different so it challenges people in both a strengthening workout and an aerobic workout. The water provides good resistance for limb movement and it’s a good lower impact, but still vigorous workout for people with certain injuries.”
Pool therapy is just one aspect of Hart’s and Larson’s rehabilitation program, with patients also meeting twice a week at the FOB’s gym and three times a week at the troop medical clinic, but according to Hart the pool therapy sessions seem to be a favorite among the patients.
“The patients really love it and they think they’re getting a lot of gains from it,” Hart said. “They really get into the rehab and they can really go through the ranges of motion without having that much pain through the exercises we’re doing. It’s really, really therapeutic.”
According to Spc. Tyler Burdette, a Soldier with Headquarters Troop, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, who is currently undergoing physical therapy after tearing a ligament in his knee, pool therapy is the most demanding workout that they go through.
“It’s the hardest, most strenuous thing we do,” the Louisville, Ky. native said. “But it helps a lot because a lot of times with injuries you can’t support your own body weight, and that’s the hardest part about working out – you can’t support it and the pool helps with that so it’s really good.”
Like Burdette, most of the Soldiers undergoing pool therapy have injuries to their lower bodies, and most of the exercise are designed to work out the patients’ ankles and knees.
“It’s mainly a lower extremity workout so we start with just some basic leg stretches and then some non-impact exercises like flutter kicks,” Larson, who was attached to the brigade from Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, explained. “If you have a knee injury or an ankle injury you can get a good workout because you’re still moving everything, but you’re not impacting that injury as hard as you would by running in formation or that sort of thing. At the same time, you’re working on muscle endurance and muscle strength because you’re moving it against the resistance of the water.”
For Soldiers with upper body injuries such as Sgt. Amanda Sweesy, who has been undergoing physical therapy for her rotator cuff since March, individual exercises are integrated into the program to accommodate her specific needs.
“It doesn’t cause me as much pain as the gym so I don’t mind it at all,” Sweesy, a Haskins, Ohio native who is assigned to Co. B, 15th BSB said.
According to Hart, the benefits of pool therapy can be experienced by any Soldier, not just those undergoing physical therapy, when integrated into a regular physical training program.
“You can even do it for preventive stuff,” he explained. “I have a lot of people now who have found out about the pool therapy and they just come ask me, ‘hey is there any exercise I can do in the pool for my PT.’ A lot of them will incorporate this stuff into their PT programs. It’s a really good strengthening exercise.
While pool therapy is something new for Black Jack Soldiers undergoing rehabilitation, Hart said that the idea of attaching physical therapy personnel to deploying brigade combat teams is also a relatively new concept.
“I think they started this back in 2005, where they started sending physical therapists and physical therapy techs with the BSBs at the brigade combat team level,” Hart explained.
He said that in the past physical therapy was performed only at the combat support hospitals and units would either have to transport the Soldiers to the CSH daily or risk losing the Soldier for several months while they lived and underwent rehab at the CSH.
“It was really demanding on the units because a lot of these maneuver units and these units that go out and do these patrols need these guys – they need the manpower,” Hart said. “It was really hard and demanding on the units to continue on and do the mission properly without the proper personnel.
“Overall, I think that physical therapy this far forward is a really good idea.I think it’s helping the brigade combat teams stay in the fight better.”
Hart said that he is only expecting to be able to take advantage of the pool for therapy sessions for another two months before the weather gets too cool, but that he is hoping that the next unit assigned to FOB Prosperity will pick up with it where he and Larsen leave off.
“We’ll come up with a program and when the next unit comes in we’ll have them take over,” he said. “That’s our goal, to have a program that can grow and that’s already set up and established so that other units and other physical therapy techs and therapists can fall into it, and just go from there.”
“This can be a really good thing. Just like any athlete, you need proactive, injury preventive stuff, and then when you get injured you need the right type of stuff to rehab so you don’t lose your career out here. There’s a lot of really good things going on with physical therapy. We’re trying to incorporate into these brigade combat teams and keep these guys in the fight.”
Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, stretch out before beginning a session of pool therapy Aug. 11. The brigade’s physical therapist, Capt. Matthew Larson, added pool therapy to his rehabilitation program after Montpetit Pool opened at central Baghdad’s Forward Operating Base Prosperity in July. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
Capt. Matthew Larson, the physical therapist for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and one of his patients, Sgt. Amanda Sweesy, a Soldier with Company B, 15th Brigade Support Brigade, run backward across Montpetit Pool during a pool therapy session Aug. 11. Larson has recently integrated pool therapy into his rehabilitation program after the Black Jack Brigade opened a pool at central Baghdad’s Forward Operating Base Prosperity in July. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
Sgt. John Hart (left), the physical therapy tech for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, watches as Spc. Tyler Burdette, a Soldier with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, works on rehabilitating his knee at Montpetit Pool at Forward Operating Base Prosperity Aug. 11. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
Sgt. Amanda Sweesy, a Soldier with Company B, 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, who is undergoing physical therapy for her rotator cuff, works on her exercises with the brigade’s physical therapy tech, Sgt. John Hart Forward Operating Base Prosperity’s Montpetit Pool Aug. 11. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs