In-house hydrotherapy will become a reality in St Martin’s School as from this month. School staff and other Education colleagues, in close collaboration with GHA’s Paediatric Physiotherapy Team, the Gibraltar Sports and Leisure Authority (who will maintain the facility) and external pool specialists appointed by the contractor, have worked over the past few months to ensure we are able to make this important therapeutic addition to the special needs provision in Gibraltar.
Hydrotherapy utilises the properties of warm water to provide an effective mode of treatment and exercise for people with physical and sensory disabilities. It is the temperature of the water, which is maintained between 34 to 35 degrees Celsius, and the thermo-neutral effect which this has on the body, which makes this type of pool very different to your average swimming pool. The children who use this facility will benefit from the many significant, evidence based, benefits of this type of therapy, which include a reduction in muscle tone, spasticity and pain. Water can also be used to assist or resist joint movements which make it an ideal environment in which to carry out stretching and strengthening programs.
Depending on the lighting within the pool, it can either provide a multi-sensory environment which may help to stimulate the senses and promote communication and social interaction; or it can be used as a calming environment for children with sensory and learning difficulties. Hoisting equipment is built into the design, allowing access to all those with limited mobility.Staff training for teachers, SNLSAs and physiotherapists has been provided by a UK based specialist. This addition to the range of therapies available in St Martin’s School is an exciting and very much welcomed development. The school would like to thank the Special Needs Action Group (SNAG) for the kind donation of buoyancy aides which will assist in the execution of planned therapies and the Parents Association for actively engaging in final planning.
A representative from the school commented, “St. Martin’s school provides a wide range of therapeutic interventions and this will be a valuable addition to the range of support and development we offer. It is something we have been looking forward t for a long time and it will give us a marvellous opportunity to improve the quality of experience and health of our children.” Gail Carreras Lead Physiotherapist stated, “The Paediatric Physiotherapy Team are excited to be able to offer this form of therapy to the children they treat in St Martin’s school; the benefits of providing treatment in this type of environment are numerous. We are extremely grateful to everyone who has worked tirelessly to bring this project to fruition and to the Government for their on-going commitment to improve the facilities available for children with disabilities.”
The Director of Education Keri Scott said, “On behalf of the Department of Education, and principally those pupils at St Martin’s who will stand to benefit most from access to hydrotherapy, I would like to thank our colleagues in GHA and GSLA who have worked closely with our staff to make this fantastic new provision a reality”.
Minister for Education John Cortes said, “Gibraltar has long needed this facility, and I am so pleased that we now have it up and running. The benefits for the users will be great, and I am certain will help many families. I know a great deal of work has gone into this and I thanks everyone involved. Looking back to where St Martin’s School was just a year ago, it’s almost unbelievable how far we’ve come.’