Little Hiccups provides Hydrotherapy sessions in collusion with Sportsworks and PT Kids. This year we were fortunate enough to secure a Grant from Big Lottery Fund which enabled us to provide 3 sets of 7 weeks to 12 families each time. That equals to 36 families that received Hydrotherapy through Little Hiccups this year.
A hydrotherapy pool is different to a typical swimming pool as the water is warmer (usually ranging between 33-36°C). And the pool we use at Armley Leisure Centre is fully accessible with Changing Places and hoists to allow all the children to access the pool.
Its hard to explain why this is just so beneficial to the families involved. I could tell you that Hydrotherapy is ridiculously expensive (I've done a rough working out of our sessions and it works out about £90 for one 30 minute session for one child). And the majority of families are just unable to afford those kinds of costs.
I could also tell you that Hydrotherapy is a good bonding session between parent and child. The children are receiving physiotherapy from trained physios in the water to help with their conditions but its FUN. The warmth of the water allows the children's muscles to relax and it eases the pain in their joints. They are exercising without knowing they are exercising.
But above all we find it necessary. The feedback we get from families proves just how essential it is:
"I think Liam thought he was having another birthday- swimming whilst his pool buddies sang Disney songs to him- very happy boy! Maybe he will even sleep tonight!!!"
"I just wanted to send you a quick message to say thank you for having Rose on the hydrotherapy sessions, she really enjoyed it and she was started to show slight movement returning during and after the sessions. Hydrotherapy has been fantastic on helping Rose recover, so thank you again for helping us."
"Harry loved it and moved and kicked more than he ever has so that was great thank you"
"Just a quick email to say that my kids absolutely loved the hydrotherapy! The help there was great and really understanding so a big thanks for organising - my kids were asking to go back the next day."
I also have so many families contacting me in regards to joining us on our Hydrotherapy sessions and we really do try too oblige them all.
Liam has low muscle tone and neuropathy which mean his legs do not work well and he cannot stand or walk unaided. He spends much of his time either in his wheelchair or kneeling on the ground. He misses the opportunities of other 8 year old children to exercise and run around. His legs need frequent stretching to help them maintain a small amount of functionality - which means he can weight bear and help with transfers which are essential to maintaining a bit of independence for Liam.
Liam is registered blind which means that he also loves the water and the sensory experiences he gets from being in a pool - touch and sounds particularly.
There are many barriers to Liam accessing a pool as a 'normal' child. Liam requires hoisting which many facilities do not have. The specialised hydro pools are very expensive to access regularly and even then they do not include extra support once Liam is in the pool. He is very sensitive to the noise of other children - so a busy communal pool on a weekend is no good and he also needs two people to help in the water (when exiting the water particularly) and as he has siblings, it is not possible for his parents to do this alone.