Wheat Ridge resident P.J. Snyder suffers from Angelman Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the nervous system, as well as scoliosis, a condition that sees the spine curve to the left or the …
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Flowing Water Watsu Aquatic Therapy is aiming to raise $30,000. You can donate to the nonprofit’s cause at gofundme.com/f/aquatic-center-for-disabled
Watsu was developed by Harold Dull in the early 1980s. It is a form of aquatic therapy where Watsu practitioners stretch, cradle, rock and float the body. According to the National Library of Medicine, Watsu can have a positive impact on stress, pain, mental health and the mood of pregnant women.
Wheat Ridge resident P.J. Snyder suffers from Angelman Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the nervous system, as well as scoliosis, a condition that sees the spine curve to the left or the right. His health conditions have caused him to be non-verbal, and he can't walk independently.
But by partaking in Watsu, a therapy that involves placing the body in warm water pools and using traditional Shiatsu massage techniques from a Watsu therapist, Snyder has more mobility and less back pain.
“He can walk independently in (warm water pools). He loves the water,” said Cindy Snyder, P.J.'s mother. “We really miss Watsu.”
Snyder received Watsu therapy sessions from Marta Stec at Easterseals Colorado in Lakewood, an organization that provides programs for people with disabilities, older adults and caregivers. This past November, Easterseals Colorado closed its warm water pool, leaving Snyder and others with disabilities with no place to receive Watsu therapy sessions. The pool was designed for people with disabilities.
Now, Stec, who has been a Watsu practitioner since 1997, has created the Flowing Water Watsu Aquatic Therapy nonprofit organization with the hope of raising enough funds to build her own warm water pool that is accessible for people with disabilities to continue to provide therapy services to her dozens of clients.
Stec serves people who have physical problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism and more.
“These people have no place to go. Most pools don't like outside services, and they don't provide Watsu,” said Stec. “There are not many (Watsu providers) in Colorado.”
The benefits of Watsu include improved mobility, a decrease in pain, mental health benefits, and help with sleeping and cardiovascular issues, Stec said. She said Watsu is like a massage in water. When a person undergoes Watsu, they are floated, rocked, cradled and stretched in the pool.
In order to do the therapy, Watsu must be done in a pool that is 94 degrees, according to Stec. She currently hosts some Watsu sessions at Celestial Seahorse, a business in Lakewood that offers Watsu, but the business's pool isn't accessible for people with disabilities.
“When I opened (Celestial Seahorse), I wasn't concerned about building a lift (into a pool) for the disabled because there was (Easterseals Colorado) and others that had a lift. Since then, every single pool that has a lift that provides Watsu has closed down,” said Trudy Jagger, owner of Celestial Seahorse. “People who are disabled and in wheelchairs or walkers that can't get up — they have nowhere to go.”
Stec currently has her eyes on vacant space at a property owned by David Zarou in Lakewood at 9600 W. Jewell Ave. Zarou, who works as a physician at his property, says he has had patients who have benefited from Watsu.
“Being worked on manually on a table is one thing, but then to be floating for an hour really reaches part of the nervous system that you can't in any other environment. I'm eager to have a tenant to fill (the vacant space), and I think this is noble work,” said Zarou.
To be able to afford a Watsu pool that can accommodate disabled residents, Flowing Water Watsu Aquatic Therapy has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $30,000.
“I see the benefit tremendously, and you can just see that it is written all over (Stec's clients), and how much it means to them. People just don't do it over and over again if it isn't working,” said Arvada resident Nate Craner. He receives Watsu therapy from Stec because he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I wish there was greater awareness (about Watsu), to be honest. At first, I wasn't sure about it, but I went back again and again, and I started to notice the changes from my body holding stress,” he said. “That combination of massage and movement — it just changed the dynamics of the way my brain works.”
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