Aquatic Therapy for Fibromyalgia
Fran Kaplan calls the house addition she built to enclose her Endless Pool "my living room, now," since she also uses the space to entertain and to study for her doctoral degree.
Fran recently celebrated the anniversary of when she began using her pool as therapy for her fibromyalgia: February 25, 2000. She shares her daily workouts with a friend who also suffers from the condition, and who actually moved from 25 miles away to Fran's neighborhood to be closer to their therapy sessions.
These workouts consist of about 40 minutes of stretching and strengthening exercises, followed by 15 to 30 minutes of swimming, in water that Fran maintains at 88 degrees. She uses gloves with webbed fingers to increase resistance for upper-body exercises, as well as elastic bands for neck and shoulder movements.
Fran says her extra-deep Endless Pool is a vast improvement over the health-club facility she used to drive a half-hour to, as is the warm, less-chlorinated water.
A disorder causing chronic pain in muscles, ligaments and tendons, fibromyalgia has no known cure. However, since beginning aquatic therapy, Fran no longer requires the use of a cane to walk.
As it happens, mobility difficulties were among the reasons she chose not to install the pool in the basement. But her house addition, with three glass sides that become screens in summer, has exceeded her expectations.
"More than just removing barriers to engaging in the therapy, I wanted to make sure it was something that gave me pleasure," Fran says. "And it really does. It's beautiful."