Susanne Bouchard: Making a Splash

Susanne Bouchard: Making a Splash

When Susanne Bouchard first came to Maine in 1977 from her homeland in Germany, she found it hard to believe that there were not more places to get the benefits of a warm saltwater pool. In Germany, it’s used for physical therapy patients, elderly, and people who want to stay physically active. If one suffers from pain, Multiple Sclerosis, arthritis, Parkinson’s, is overweight or has other chronic conditions, they could find relief from swimming in a warm saltwater pool.

Warm saltwater therapy is exercise or water walking in a saltwater pool heated to 92-degrees. It is a safe and effective way to regain strength and flexibility and get more body control and function. This results in less pain and better mobility. Maine, having one of the oldest populations in the country, is a perfect backdrop for a Healing Waters Pool. “As a physical therapist, we use spas and water therapy a lot in Germany to help people with their aches and pains. The benefits can be numerous. I did not understand why there were not more places where people could do water therapy here. We can do so much more in the warm water than we can do on dry land and with much less pain and strain on your body’s joints and muscles,” explains Susanne.

At Advanced Physical Therapy in Waterville, where Susanne works, patients have had access to warm water therapy for the last twenty-eight years. Those patients have been shown to rehabilitate faster when compared to the patients in Augusta who did not have access to warm water therapy. Even elderly folks that are moderately disabled can remain active and increase blood circulation by practicing this type of therapy. It has also been found that it can help with dementia and Alzheimer’s. “I have read about one man’s success story with his mother. She had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He had heard about contrast bath therapy and did this with his mother. He would take her from the hot water tub back to the cold water tub. This was done three times or more. Ten minutes in hot water, it is about 104 degrees and gets everything circulating, then go to the cold tub with temperatures

of 55-65 degrees and stay in there at least thirty seconds, then back to the hot tub, back to the cold. You can feel every bit of blood circulating around your body, flushing out the toxins and rejuvenating the brain. This is how he got his mother better,” Susanne tells me.

Since 2007 Susanne, as the director of fundraising for the Healing Waters Pool, has raised more than $900,000 towards building a 92-degree warm saltwater pool, complete with five special massaging jets strategically placed to provide relief for the neck and back. Once open, the contrast tubs would be the only of their kind in our state. Contrast baths have also been shown to boost the immune system, which would be exceptionally beneficial considering our current pandemic state. The pool and accompanying hot water and cold water tubs would be open to the community. There are also plans to include a gym complete with basketball court and locker rooms.

Susanne needs help to have this great idea come to fruition. Every day, the cost of the supplies needed to open the pool goes up. The sophisticated dehumidification system needed for a building that has a warm pool, hot tub and sauna has gone up in price since the pandemic, Susanne says. “In 2017 we were given an estimate of $185,000 for the dehumidification system. We raised that by last year, 2021, but then found out it has gone up in price to $239,000 for the same system.”

Susanne and the Healing Waters Pool must raise another $300,000 to cover the rising cost of the dehumidification system and to be able to reach their goal of opening in December 2022. Susanne states, “It doesn’t pay to get something cheap. We want the pool to be able to be used and benefit people for many, many years.”

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Alisha Goslin

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