Marcel Hulselmans - ICEBAT INDIA-2017

Marcel Hulselmans


Speaker Profile

Marcel Hulselmans, Germany

He completed his professional training as a physiotherapist with a in 1982, at the STAFTO institute in Enschede, the Netherlands.

Since his professional interest focused on neurological rehabilitation, he soon discovered the huge potential of aquatic movement therapy for these patients.

Taking lessons from James McMillan as early as 1987 and later from Johan Lambeck, he developed his skills in aquatic therapy, culminating in becoming the first IATF senior lecturer for water specific therapy (WST) in Germany, in 2009.

Since 1992 he is employed as a physiotherapist in a specialized clinic for spine trauma the Schwerpunktklinikum Werner Wicker, Bad Wildungen-Reinhardshausen , Germany , and works with spinal cord and brain trauma patients in the pool .

Being active as a teacher for WST at various clinics and institutions in Germany, he is dedicated to enhance the use of water specific therapy as an important tool in the rehabilitation of severely impaired patients.


Keynote Title:

The role of water specific movement therapy in the early rehabilitation of spinal cord injured patients.

Spinal cord injury (SCI) has a massive impact on the life of the person involved. Depending on the height and the extent of the lesion of the spinal cord, motor, sensory and autonomous functioning of the nerve system is interrupted or impaired.

Early mobilization of SCI patients is crucial, since the devastating effects of prolonged bed rest as well as the specific physical deterioration following SCI, are well documented.

Limited load-bearing capacity of the spinal column at the early stage after injury (operative stabilization of the spine), minimal muscle force in the affected body parts and very often multi-traumata, require a very special environment to allow early exercise.

Thermo-neutral water offers properties that not only allow low-power exercise at an early stage, load relief of the spinal column during the early stage but also counters most of the SCI specific patho-physiological effects.

Physical rehabilitation of SCI patients aims simultaneously for two goals:

  • Regaining of pre-injury motor-sensory function.
  • Developing compensatory techniques to regain maximum A.D.L. independence.

In order to approach these goals, active functional training is compulsory. Daily aquatic experience with SCI patients shows that active functional exercise can be applied much earlier, with a larger range of movement and with more repetitions, than on land.

Although the literature on the role aquatic therapy in SCI-rehabilitation is too limited to prove its effectiveness, the credo “use it or lose it” surely underlines the need for water specific functional training in the early stage of SCI.

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