Students Learn Aquatic Physical Therapy at St. Philip’s College

Amy Quesenberry, PTA, M.S.CIN, ATRIC, and Assistant Professor at St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, is an aquatic therapy advocate. She is also director of membership of APTA’s Academy of Aquatic Physical Therapy.

“When I worked at an outpatient clinic here is San Antonio, we used a pool to treat many different types of clients, from training triathletes to treating patients with Parkinson’s,” Amy said. “The pool was installed in a small space on the second floor. It’s great that you don’t need a big footprint for the pool.”

When her career brought her to the Village at Incarnate Word as director of rehab, she saw an opportunity to expand their aquatic therapy programming with an aquatic therapy pool.

“We installed the pool in our skilled unit, focusing on rehabilitation for patients coming back from surgery or with injuries,” Amy said. “When patients get in the pool, you can immediately see the relief in their faces. They don’t feel pain and aren’t afraid of falling.”

The pool was always popular. “I can tell you – no one ever cancels a pool treatment,” Amy said.

600 TDW at St. Phillip's College

New SwimEx 600 TDW at St. Philip’s College

Now Amy is using her experience to teach aquatic physical therapy at St. Philip’s College. The college’s SwimEx 600 TDW provides students with hands-on experience that’s hard to find.

“I knew the pool would be a great addition to the new campus facility,” said Amy. “We can change the water temperature more quickly with a smaller pool and we love having the ability to change the floor depths.”

Getting student PTAs career-ready

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program (PTA) at St. Philip’s College prepares students to work in hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation units, sports-medicine facilities, nursing homes, extended-care facilities, or pediatric facilities. Their program includes aquatic therapy training.

It’s important that student PTAs get in the water and learn about aquatic therapy,” Amy said. “There aren’t many schools who offer training with a small therapy pool. We love having the larger pool, but the aquatic therapy pool has versatility that you can’t get using a larger pool.”

The community was invited to the grand opening of the new campus facilities. The event included two first-year PTA students demonstrating features of the SwimEx pool.

“We have an excellent set up that includes a 72″ big screen TV that we can connect to the pool cameras,” Amy said. One student demonstrated swimming against the current, and another student demonstrated trunk stability exercises. “The crowds were just blown away with what they could see happening in the pool, including shifts in form and posture.”

Students learning aquatic physical

Student PTAs are enthusiastic about aquatic therapy

Amy recently had 26 students using the new aquatic and therapy pools during a 3-hour lab. “The students were so amazed,” she said. “They worked on stretching activities, supine passive range of motion exercises, seated and standing exercises, and protocols with and without the current utilizing both pools. I wanted students to see they aren’t limited to standard pool exercises.”

The students get so excited when they are in the pool – we all call it the glow,” Amy said. “I have one previous graduate who isn’t a swimmer at all, she doesn’t like to swim, and now she is getting certified in aquatic therapy. It’s exciting to watch the enthusiasm.”

Amy hopes their new facility can increase access to aquatic therapy training in addition to serving the community. “It started with my early career rehabilitation work, and now I’m such a believer in the power of water,” she said.

~ Authored by Amy Quesenberry, PTA, M.S.CIN, ATRIC, and Assistant Professor at St. Philip’s College in San Antonio

Visit our YouTube Channel and see how St. Phillips College Aquatic Physical Therapy students are learning while using their SwimEx 600 TDW.

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