Personal therapy pool gives injured a way to heal
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
HONOLULU — Sabrina Coryell wasn't sure where to turn when a decades-old motorcycle injury caught up to her and drastically changed her family's life.
"Things got worse and worse and worse until … I could hardly stand or sit," she said of a herniated disc that was operated on in April. "I'm working my way back from that place, really from zero."
Work began Sunday on an individual therapy pool that Coryell had installed behind her townhouse under a tree in her tiny Diamond Head backyard.
"The doctor said my best chance for rehabilitation is in the water," she said via phone Sunday evening. "It's already different. There's something about the water that's magical, and allows a person to relearn, and your brain to relearn, how to use your body in a normal fashion."
Coryell's pool, which is about 3 feet above the ground, 7 feet wide, 8½ feet long, and more than 5 feet deep on one end, was installed by a fledgling company called The Vertical Pool that ultimately hopes to provide wounded veterans with the personal-size therapy tub for free.
"This thing is really designed to allow people to rehabilitate themselves," Coryell said. "This is a godsend for me, and I can only imagine what it would be like for people who are coming home wounded."
The Diamond Head pool is the second of its kind in Hawaii. Pool designer Peter Hold said he installed the first about a year and a half ago in Waimanalo to be used for dog therapy. Currently there are about 40 in use across the country — some purchased privately, some donated, and others donated or resold secondhand.
"I created this thing with the wounded warrior in mind," Hold said Sunday after setting up Coryell's pool. "As a designer-builder I just had it in the back of my head somewhere that I knew this kind of thing would be beneficial."
Hold said Hawaii could wind up being the perfect market for the product given its dense population of elderly residents, retirees and military members, along with many small backyards.
"The mantra and the most critical aspect … is the verticality," he explained. "Everything works when you're vertical, when you're upright."
Coryell said she nicknamed her pool Tug because "it sort of looks like this little tugboat washed up on our lanai."
She said the pool is perfect for her rehabilitation because she can use it whenever and for however long she wants. Typical hydrotherapy sessions cost about $75 an hour once a week, she explained, and there is the added burden of driving to and from a location and needing her husband to go along to assist her.
For her, that meant the $7,800 to $9,800 cost of the pool will be well worth it in the long run.
"Seriously, it has the power to transform people's lives," she said. "It really does, and people need to know about it. … It will just open up so many people's worlds."
Hold said he hopes people will either purchase or donate the pools and then pass them on to others in need once they recover, because the pools were designed to be portable. They can also be set up in the home or outside.
"It can come apart in pieces, sort of like Legos," Coryell said.
Hold, a West Point graduate, also recently set up the Aquatic Therapy Foundation, which will serve as the nonprofit arm of The Vertical Pool Co. to connect the pools with warriors through grants and donations.
With only word of mouth, Hold said he received 17 requests for pools from military members in three weeks. He plans to donate the first to a wounded warrior in Washington state scheduled to have a double amputation later this month.
"Ultimately the objective here is to heal people," he said.