PLUS! (6) Benefits of Aquatic Therapy & Fitness

By Christine G. Adamo (images courtesy WFAW & The Hockensmith Family)

Pool water aids healing in many ways. Some are obvious. Others, like battle scars, aren’t.

Meet the Hockensmiths (pictured)! Anthony II, Amber, AJ, Katherine, Maycie and Anthony III.

Meet the Hockensmith family (l. to r.): Anthony II, Amber, AJ, Katherine, Maycie & Anthony III

Maytronics has teamed with Water For A Warrior, donating a Dolphin S50 automatic pool cleaner to medically-retired military veteran Anthony Wayne Hockensmith II. The former U.S. Army Sgt. lives in Georgetown, KY, with his wife Amber—a childhood sweetheart! They have four children: Maycie, 13, Katherine, 8, AJ, 4 (soon, 5!), and Anthony III, 2.

“My wife is a caregiver through the VA,” he says. “I don’t know where I’d be without her.”

A veteran myself, I grapple with emotional scars incurred in the months leading up to and in months spent in-country during the Persian Gulf War (1990-91). In that way, I’m deeply moved by Maytronics’ generosity and that of WFAW … or any group that serves veterans. Yet, this story resonates for reasons beyond my having been a U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. I, too, have PTSD.

Atten-tion! (Must Be Paid)

Maytronics donated a model Dolphin S50 (pictured) to the Hockensmith family.

Maytronics donated a model Dolphin S50 pool cleaning robot to Sgt. Hockensmith and family.

The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs Nat’l. Center for PTSD says Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder occurs after suffering trauma, which has several origins and not only affects military personnel. Trauma is typically set off by a shocking, or life-threatening, event that is either witnessed or experienced. Such events convince us that lives are in danger: Our lives or the lives of others.

Traumatic events can be tied to abuse, accidents, assault, combat, disasters or witnessing injury/death. PTSD itself isn’t rare, can affect anyone and isn’t a sign of weakness. (No, we can’t: “Snap out of it!”) Various factors increase PTSD risk, most of which rest outside our own spheres of control.

As for the U.S. population, the Nat’l. Center for PTSD notes:

•   7-8% of Americans develop PTSD during their lives.
•   8 million U.S. adults are diagnosed with PTSD yearly.
•   4% of men & 10% of women develop PTSD at some point.
•   PTSD is higher among military veterans (see averages below).
•   Military stats, by era: Vietnam, 30% |  Iraq, 15.5% | Gulf War, 12%

Other factors include health and—in wartime—political climate, location and enemy traits.

Proven Pool-Based Remedies

Sgt. Anthony Hockensmith, II (U.S. Army-Ret.) and his wife Amber are childhood sweethearts. (pictured)

Sgt. Anthony W. Hockensmith, II (U.S. Army-Ret.), and wife Amber are childhood sweethearts.

Members of the armed forces often engage in combat or participate in missions which pose a threat. Such events can lead to PTSD diagnoses. In my experience, it does not arise solely out of a need to physically fight for your life.

Being shipped off to war, distanced from loved ones and then laying in readiness for combat heighten anxiety and are stressful. Swimming and Aquatic Therapy & Fitness programs are proven to help PTSD sufferers cope post-diagnosis.

“The water provides an ideal environment for exercise and healing,” says Dr. Beth Scalone, an Aquatic Therapy & Rehabilitation Institute certified doctor of physical therapy and orthopedic certified specialist. “The unique properties of buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure and viscosity combine to allow individuals (intolerant to land-based activity) to exercise—gaining physical and mental benefits.”

Scalone says regular aquatic exercise improves quality of life and positively affects individuals with varied physical or emotional injuries and limitations. Swim therapy benefits add up. Here are a few:

•   Warm water immersion increases blood flow to muscles up to 240%.
•   Buoyancy unweights the joints to decrease compressive forces and pain.
•   Water aids and encourages range of motion; buoyancy increases endurance.
•   Viscosity, or drag, provides all-around resistance for stronger muscles and joints.
•   Water support reduces fear of falling to safely challenge and improve gait and balance.
•   Swimming decreases anxiety and depression, offering a sense of normalcy at being able to exercise.

“Swimming is the only thing that seems to help,” says Amber Hockensmith of her husband’s swim fitness routine.

Sgt. Hockensmith (U.S. Army-Ret.)

Hockensmith (pictured) survived two tours of combat duty and now suffers with PTSD, TBI and related side effects.

Hockensmith survived two tours of combat duty and suffers with PTSD, TBI and their side effects.

Hockensmith served with the U.S. Army for eight years. He survived two tours of combat duty and now suffers with PTSD, traumatic brain injury and side effects: short-term memory loss, night terrors, seizures. PTSD restricts his lifestyle, making it difficult to leave the house. When he does, he is said to be hypervigilant—shutting down or isolating himself afterward.

“We attempted to join a local gym (with) a pool. No matter what time of day we went (we found) too many people in the gym. Anthony does not do well in crowds. (He also) suffers from epilepsy caused from a TBI that happened … during his first deployment. He has had a seizure once in public and doesn’t want it to happen again for various reasons which I am sure you can imagine.”

Water for a Warrior’s Jessica Bishop coordinated with Aurora Pools & Spas (Lexington, KY) to get a residential swimming pool donated and installed for the Hockensmiths. She then contacted Maytronics, asking for a robotic pool cleaner. MarCom Manager Steve Skura and Marketing Asst. Brittany Brock made it happen, shipping a Dolphin S50 directly to the Hockensmith home. It arrived recently.

“It did a really good job,” the veteran told me, by phone. “I’m impressed!”

A Home Pool’s Healing Power

Hockensmith’s donated pool and robot offer a home-based workout and let him spend more time with family (children pictured).

The veteran’s donated pool and robot help him work out at home and spend time with family.

Hockensmith’s pool and robot provide the comfort of a home-based workout. Yet, they also give him the ability to spend valuable time bonding with family and to “get some aerobics in”—without the hassle of pool water maintenance. The S50 suits his family’s new 15-by-30-ft. oval pool, which sits above ground and will soon have a deck surround thanks to another donor.

“I’ve always enjoyed swimming and being in the water,” he says. “When I was going through military separation, I had a variety of (physical training) options. Water aerobics was one of them. I loved it! So, I’d like to say, ‘Thanks!’ to Maytronics for the pool cleaner. It makes my life easier, since I can spend less time cleaning and more time using the pool. The monetary value is mind-blowing, with people contributing funds or products and being so supportive.”

“It’s just shocking to see that there are people … willing to donate (to those) in need. It’s pleasantly surprising.”

That’s the Maytronics way! Skura says the company enjoys partnering with causes like Water for a Warrior which have a strong need and ensure that donations make a BIG difference in the lives of folks like Hockensmith. Water for a Warrior acknowledges veterans’ sacrifices by providing private swimming pools, hot tubs and other products or services which aid their health, fitness, therapy and recovery efforts. Wanna help? Email info@WaterForAWarrior.com.

You can also learn more at MaytronicsUS.com.


Maytronics U.S. is proud to return the favor, serving Sgt. Hockensmith and his family. (logo)

Maytronics U.S. proudly serves military veterans and families worldwide.

Water For A Warrior acknowledges veterans’ sacrifices via donations of private swimming pools, hot tubs and more. (logo pictured)

WFAW acknowledges veterans’ sacrifices.