Innovative immersion therapy services to roll out across Australia

Posted 4 months ago by David McManus
Adelaide immersion therapy service, Determined2 has signed up to spread the service across Australia with Belgravia Leisure taking the award winning service to communities throughout the nation. [Image source: supplied]
Adelaide immersion therapy service, Determined2 has signed up to spread the service across Australia with Belgravia Leisure taking the award winning service to communities throughout the nation. [Image source: supplied]

Key points:

  • Workplace road accident survivor Pete Wilson from Determined2 launched immersion therapy in Adelaide eight years ago
  • Belgravia Leisure employs more than 5,500 staff in over 230 swim, sports, fitness, health and wellness and leisure facilities
  • Mr Wilson’s vision of bringing immersion therapy to everyone in Australia is, now, being fully realised through the partnership

 

Belgravia Leisure — a subsidiary of Australian company, Belgravia Group, which operates over 160 aquatic venues across Australia and New Zealand — will see Determined2 offer accessible immersion therapy services throughout Australia.

Initially, the collaboration will see Melbourne’s Watermarc facility offer available services, with plans to then expand into at least 10 other aquatic facilities across the country and New Zealand over the next five years, with other international ventures then planned to occur.

This expansion means distance will no longer be a barrier for those living with an injury or a disability outside of Adelaide who require access to this novel allied health service, for the very first time. Pete Wilson of Determined2 said the collaboration was made possible through the care and culture of Belgravia Leisure, with respect to his own mission and beliefs.

“The service, from day one, was designed to reach as many people as possible, and we looked for a long time to find the right people who — not only had the capabilities, but shared our values and passion for including everyone. I’m proud to say the amazing people at Belgravia Leisure are those people,” Mr Wilson said.

Immersion therapy offers the freedom of movement within a weightless underwater environment using scuba equipment, with guidance from specially trained accredited exercise physiologists. While underwater, participants with a wide variety of disabilities and injuries who find it difficult to walk on land can walk, swim and even dance.

You may benefit from immersion therapy if you have been diagnosed with:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD]
  • Multiple sclerosis [MS]
  • Depression
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Loss of limb — amputation
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Generalised anxiety disorder or associated anxiety disorders, such as:
    • Post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder [OCD]

Therapy provided by Determined2 has been funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme [NDIS], for people with workplace injuries [WorkCover], motor vehicle injuries, returned service personnel and people supported by an aged care package, with the intention that a similar setup will be available in other States and Territories.

There is strong evidence to suggest immersion therapy improves health-related quality of life for people of all ages, as the University of SA and Determined2 have spent seven years and $1 million on relevant research — including a three year clinical trial beginning this year.

“Determined2, in partnership with the University of South Australia and leading medical experts have spent the past seven years researching the service to better understand how immersion therapy helps people,” Pete continued.

“This research is providing a growing evidence base to support the compelling anecdotal evidence provided by those accessing the service, and there are hopes to see even more research opportunities as the service becomes more widely available.” 

Dr Jeff Walkley, chief executive officer [CEO] of the Belgravia Foundation and national disability and diversity manager for Belgravia Leisure, has worked closely with Determined2 to ensure the collaboration is one that benefits as many people as possible.

“Immersion therapy enables things to happen that many participants thought impossible. To take gravity away and have the freedom to move, to jump, to dance when it’s simply not possible on land is a beautiful thing that liberates the human spirit whilst using exercise as a treatment for the clinical condition. What’s more, [sic] it gives people hope for the future, with strong evidence that the psychosocial impacts from Immersion Therapy are profound,” explained Dr Walkley.

Training of Exercise Physiologists will begin in Adelaide in August, with the first participants expected to benefit from immersion therapy at Melbourne’s Watermarc venue in October.