Ellesmere Port’s sports village is giving MS sufferers a new lease of life.
Brio Leisure, the council’s leisure arm, has launched a new exercise initiative to help those living with multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions.
The water rehabilitation sessions are designed to combat the effects of MS and similar illnesses such as Parkinson’s Disease.
Jane Johnston-Cree, centre manager at Chester’s Neuro Therapy Centre, says the weekly therapies at the sports village are already producing ‘great results’.
“Research shows that if you are physically active you release neuro transmitters in the brain that moderate your mood,” said Jane.
“This improves a person’s mood and produces a ‘feel good’ factor. This creates positivity, improves quality of life and reinforces a sense of normality in people who may have been fit and well before their diagnosis but have now decreased their physical activity considerably.”
Brio, the community interest company that manages sports and leisure centres across Cheshire West, has tailored the aqua therapy classes to cater for those with different levels of neurological disorders.
Class instructor Sarah Oakes said: “We have two sessions on a Friday, the first is for those who can cope independently in the water and the second is for those who prefer to have the support of a carer.
“It’s amazing to see how those attending have developed. Many are exercising effectively in the water or even swimming independently when just a few weeks ago they struggled to get into the pool.”
There are also huge social benefits according to Mrs Johnston-Cree.
She explained: “When people are diagnosed with MS or other neurological conditions they might not know anyone else with the condition. So coming to a group where their issues and limitations are understood and being able to talk to people with exactly the same problems is hugely empowering. It provides a huge wealth of knowledge about the condition that their family and friends may not have.
“We’re lucky to have been introduced to Brio and the wonderful staff and to be able to use the fantastic facilities they have.”
Mum of two Sue Hardman, 61, was diagnosed with MS 20 years ago. Her condition worsened after she developed medical complications which left her confined to a wheelchair.
“Swimming was always my thing when I was growing up and it has always been my life,” she said. “Having MS made it difficult to continue. I have tried other centres but Ellesmere Port Sports Village is just amazing.
“The instructor is brilliant and she thinks about the types of exercises to suit my condition. The classes have had an amazing impact on my life.
“This type of exercise is perfect. I have no worries about falling down.” She added “This is now my world and I love it.”