Pool power over pain

This section provides recently published news relating to multiple sclerosis provided by a third party news syndicator.

(Belleville News Democrat)


Sept 13, 2003

Former lifeguard Mike Mangum went nearly six years without swimming.

When he got into a pool six weeks ago he met with a surprise -- his multiple sclerosis had made him unable to swim.

"I had to learn how to do that again," said Mangum, 42, of Edwardsville.

But in fewer than two months, water therapy has Mangum swimming eight or nine 50-foot laps. He's also seen improvement in some of the symptoms, such as muscle spasms, that make his illness painful.

"I can move my legs a lot better. I don't have to use my arms as much to move them around," said Mangum.

It's also easier for Mangum to transfer himself from his wheelchair to his bed or a stationary chair.

"I don't have to just throw myself," he said.

Mangum lives independently. With the help of a four-wheel-drive wheelchair, he still pursues his hobbies of exploring for relics, hunting and fishing. He's planning to teach his 18-year-old daughter, Angel, to hunt with a bow and arrow.

"My family worries because I have the habit of taking off in the timber on my own," he said.

Because he stands on feet that often have tremors, swimming is Mangum's only full-body exercise. He also does other exercises under the direction of an Anderson Hospital physical therapist. He's almost reached the goal of doing therapy by himself.

"For someone with MS, he's progressed fairly quickly," Mangum's therapist, Diane Richter, said.

Before his hand tremors forced him to quit work, Mangum was assistant manager of the payroll office at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Anderson Hospital last year added a heated, 6-by-14-foot pool to its therapy department. But Mangum can't use it because the 90-degree water and humidity would not be good for his condition. He receives his therapy from Richter at the Collinsville-Maryville-Troy YMCA pool. Several other YMCAs accommodate water therapy patients.

The ages of people who can benefit from water therapy ranges from babies to the elderly, Anderson Hospital spokesman Natalie Head said.

A 4-year-old girl who has shaken baby syndrome -- brain damage that prevents control of most body functions and movement -- soon be will using the small therapy pool. The first goal of her treatment will be more control over her head, said Jennifer Norton, who specializes in juvenile therapy.

"It would help her be more functional because of the support of the water," Norton said.

The first water session was postponed Friday because the girl had to enter the hospital to stop seizures.

The girl is blind and has cerebral palsy as the result of being shaken at 5 months old by her father. The father now is in prison, and the child lives with her great-aunt.

Water therapy is not new, "but it's probably under utilized," Norton said.
Submitted  9/18/2003 12:14:27 PM