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DAD'S FURY AT LACK OF CITY HYDRO TREATMENT; 'It's a disgrace,' says father of disabled teen.

Byline: Martin Shipton

A FATHER whose disabled son has been denied access to special water treatment has branded the lack of a children's hydrotherapy pool in Cardiff a "disgrace".

In July, Joe Skibinski, who has dystonic cerebral palsy, had an operation to reposition his hip.

Dad Alex believed that in the recovery period after the operation Joe would benefit from hydrotherapy treatment - exercise in water.

The consultant treating Joe, 14, agreed and referred him for the therapy.

But unlike other parts of Wales, Cardiff has no hydrotherapy pool available for children on the NHS.

What makes Joe's dad even angrier is that private patients are able to use a pool reserved for adults at the University Hospital in Cardiff.

Alex Skibinski, a freelance photographer, said: "I think it's a disgrace that children living in the capital of Wales are denied access to this form of treatment which could be so beneficial to them.

"I've checked into what happens in other areas near by and have found out there's a purpose-built hydrotherapy pool for children at Ystrad Mynach and another one at High Cross, near Newport. I also think it's shocking that children are not allowed access to a hydrotherapy pool at the University Hospital, which is currently reserved for adults, while private patients from the Spire Cardiff Hospital are.

"That suggests the only way you can get access to this form of treatment is by paying for it.

"They say there will be a pool available when the next phase of the Children's Hospital for Wales opens in three years time.

"But children like Joe need the treatment now, not in 2015."

The private Spire Cardiff Hospital mentions on its website that patients can receive hydrotherapy treatment.

Fiona Jenkins, executive director of therapies and health science for the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said staff were doing all they could to provide hydrotherapy treatment for children.

She said: "For some children, exercise in water is an effective way of providing treatment, though exercise without the use of a hydrotherapy pool is also effective.

"Work is under way on the second phase of the Children's Hospital for Wales which will include a hydrotherapy facility.

"There is a hydrotherapy pool at the University Hospital of Wales which is best suited to adults. We adhere to strict guidelines on safeguarding children and therefore do not mix children with adults for hydrotherapy. "The pool at UHW is specifically designed for adults and does not have appropriate hoists and other equipment that is needed to treat most children."

She added: "The health board is working closely with the Welsh Government and the children's hospital charity Noah's Ark on the plans for a new children's hydrotherapy pool which will create a state-of-the-art facility designed to provide the best possible care for our younger patients.

"While that work is ongoing, we are continuing to look at all possible avenues, including talking with specialist schools, to ensure that children receive exercise programmes appropriate to their needs."

The health board confirmed that private patients from the Spire Hospital could use the hydrotherapy pool at the University Hospital of Wales on a paying basis, but insisted this had no negative impact on NHS patients.

The second phase of the Children's Hospital for Wales is due to be completed at the University Hospital of Wales site in 2015.

HYDROTHERAPY is the use of water in the treatment of disease.

The healing properties of hydrotherapy are based on its mechanical and/or thermal effects. It makes use of the body's reaction to hot and cold stimuli, to the protracted application of heat, to the pressure exerted by the water, and to the sensation of the water itself.

Generally speaking, heat is used to soothe the body, and to slow down the activity of internal organs. Cold is used to stimulate and invigorate, increasing internal activity within the body. If someone experiences tense muscles or anxiety, heat is recommended in the shower or bath. For feeling tired and stressed out, it is recommended to take a warm shower or bath followed by a short cold shower to help stimulate the body and mind.

When submerged in a body of water such as a bath or a pool, there is a kind of weightlessness, as the water relieves the body of much of the effects of gravity.

Water also has a hydrostatic effect and has a massage-like feeling as the water gently kneads the body. Water, when it is moving, stimulates the touch receptors on the skin, increasing blood circulation and releasing tight muscles.


Cerebral palsy sufferer Joe Skibinski in hospital, left. His dad Alex says he has been denied hydrotherapy treatment in an NHS adult pool - unlike paying patients
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 8, 2012
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