Hailey Miller, now 16, has been taking classes with Joyce Wilson (left) at Aldergrove's Fraser Valley Aquatic Rehabilitation since she was aged five. Miller spoke of her progress at the facility's celebration on Saturday.

Seeking health and mobility

Unique aqua therapy facility in Aldergrove attracts clients from far and wide

There is a wide range of reasons for people to lose their motor control.

Some were born this way, such as Hailey Miller of Coquitlam, who was born with cerebral palsy.

Some lose it in an accident, such as Kevin Brooks and Michael Coss who were both in separate serious motor vehicle crashes that confined them to a wheelchair.

For Mark Stockbrocks of Aldergrove, it was a stroke that almost took his life and left him a quadriplegic.

The one thing they all have in common is that they have benefitted from the wheelchair accessible, 94 degree private pool, and therapy provided by Fraser Valley Aquatic Rehabilitation. The facility, operated by Joyce Wilson at 24562 Fraser Hwy., provides progressive, one-on-one, warm water therapy in their private pool.

“Our promise is to assist you, or someone you know, in gaining an increase of ability. We believe that anyone can improve their health and wellbeing with a regular program of stretching and exercise while releasing tight muscle tissue in our 94 degree, private pool. With a minor, or even major injury, genetic or neurological disorder, there will always be a benefit from participating in our warm water rehabilitation program,” says Wilson.

“To regain control of weak, tense or even spastic muscles, you need warmer water than that offered in public pools. Due to conditions such as cerebral palsy, stroke and traumatic brain injury, even minor injuries and stress, people experience restricted, painful muscles. The 94 degree water releases these restrictions naturally as our professional staff assist your body in proper alignment. Our programs are proven to help people of all ages, sizes, and abilities to attain mobility, strength, and relaxation.”

For Hailey Miller, the facility has meant a huge improvement over the past 11 years she has been attending weekly therapy sessions with Wilson.

Miller is an outgoing 16 year old, a Grade 11 student at Terry Fox school in Coquitlam, who participates as much as she is able in the school’s physical education programs. When a phys-ed class is not suitable for her abilities she usually trains by herself in the school’s weight room.

She can also walk without using her braces when the situation is right — when it’s not slippery ground, for example.

She is also a budding musician, playing piano, guitar and drums as well as singing.

However, she says the most significant contribution to her improved strength has been the weekly sessions with Wilson at the pool, along with the therapeutic horse riding sessions she takes weekly at Aldergrove’s Valley Therapeutic Equestrian Association facility on 256 Street.

“I’ve been coming here for most of my life, since I was five, and it has helped me so much. Joyce has given me strength and confidence,” says Miller.

Almost five years ago when he was barely in his 30s, Mark Stockbrocks suffered a stroke. It left him with no feeling in, or control of, his legs and left arm, and very limited control of his right arm.

It was a crippling blow for a young man who was fit enough to be an athlete and enjoyed his labouring work with Langley School District. Stockbrocks was also contemplating becoming a fire fighter.

All those dreams were quashed in an instant — but you wouldn’t know it in talking to the man who is consigned to a wheelchair.

He exudes optimism and ambition and refuses to see himself as a victim.

He also has excellent body mass and his legs and arms are not frail or atrophied either, thanks to his dedication to exercise and working out, which he hopes will one day help reconnect his brain to his muscles and nerves.

“There is a disconnect between my brain and spinal cord, I have no motor control,” says Stockbrocks.

“But I work my muscles at the physiological level, to keep in shape but also because the input stimulation of my muscles working could bring about ‘reserve mapping’ by sending signals from my muscles to my brain.”

Stockbrocks comes back to Aldergrove twice a week for hour-long sessions at the facility’s swimming pool, because this is the one service that is not available anywhere else. And Stockbrocks swears by it.

“It provides core strengthening: I do squats, stretching, leg presses, trying to take steps, trying to ‘wake up’ my left arm. I swim like a seahorse,” he added with a laugh.

“I’m grateful that Joyce (Wilson) has never given up on me. Without that attitude I would not get this far. She’s the strongest woman I know, next to my mom.”

Joyce Wilson, who runs Fraser Valley Aquatic Rehabilitation with her daughter Holly, says she sees the benefits of Watsu on her clients every day.

“We do Watsu and Aquatic Integration (AI), which is an advanced form of Watsu specifically for rehab,” says Joyce. “We see improvements with balance, strength, release of tension to allow for more movement, core improvement, range of motion and cardiovascular strength.”

Fraser Valley Aquatic Rehabilitation is open 9 to 5 Mondays to Fridays at 24562 Fraser Hwy. For information call 604-856-3595.

“Brothers in Heavy Metal”: Kevin Brooks and Mark Stockbrocks both spoke of the therapeutic value of Fraser Valley Aquatic Rehabilitation’s heated pool at the facility’s fund-raiser on Saturday. -Kurt Langmann photo


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