A quick scan of the web will support the benefits of aquatic therapy. High Country residents are proud that Watauga Medical Center led the way in offering aquatic therapy in a state-of-the art facility at the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center in Boone, WNC magazine in 2017 wrote:

“Get well. Boone’s Paul A. Broyhill Wellness Center is a good example of the well-kept secret that wellness centers offer (in) great fitness options. Medical facility-affiliated, these centers aren’t just geared toward medically challenged adults; anyone can join. Associated with the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, a High Country-wide group of hospitals, rehab facilities and medical practices, the Broyhill Center boasts all kinds of state-of-the-art offerings. It features an aquatic fitness program in a warm water therapy pool.”

Other facilities around the nation agree. Rehab facilities at a major New York Hospital stated: “In our 92-94 degree therapeutic pool (there are) many advantages and benefits to individuals recovering from all phases of injury or illness. The scope of patient diagnoses treated in our pool is surprisingly vast, encompassing everything from post-surgical, non-surgical, orthopedic, rheumatologic and neurological to chronic pain. It is the therapeutic properties of the water combined with the skill and specialized training of our aquatic therapists that will help you to improve your mobility and function. You do not have to be a swimmer to participate in or benefit from water therapy.”

There are adequate numbers of fitness centers in the High Country and people are excited about the new Watauga Comunity Recreation Center that recently opened because no one facility is equipped to provide every need. But there is only one Wellness Center. Its original scope is summed up in its very name: The Wellness Center.

At the Wellness Center, the physical therapy department have experts in this field who have taken patients in wheelchairs, helped them onto a lift and lowered them into the warm water and worked with them on a one-on-one basis. Many today no longer have to enter the Wellness Center in wheelchairs — they walk in. This is a direct result of warm water therapy, which also provides ongoing wellness in the therapy pool.

To those at the hospital that tell therapy patients they can join the Watauga Rec Center, our message to them is: Recreation is not rehabilitation! To think that Watauga Medical Center would even consider closing the therapy pool to make room for Ortho Carolina is hard to comprehend, particularly when most of the patients who use the facility are patients of Ortho Carolina. And these are not just older people. College students, professionals and world travelers of all ages are benefitting. They do not use the facility for recreation, they use the facility to get back to life, to get back to “wellness.”

We celebrated the vision of Watauga Medical Center’s forward-thinking vision in establishing this facility and we trust it will not turn its back on the High Country as being a leader in the field of wellness.

Donna Toney


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