John Kenyon has been calling the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation and Arthritis Centre home for the past five and a half months.

‘I had an ATV accident and broke three vertebrae in my upper back and four in my lower back and injured my spine,” Kenyon recalls.

He spent six weeks in acute care before being transferred to rehab in October. The Grace Hansen Therapeutic Pool plays a big part in his mission to walk again.

“I was doing some very limited range exercises on land and my therapist Carolyn suggested that the pool would benefit me in terms of gaining some range of motion in my limbs, especially my legs.”

The physiotherapy pool is the only one of its kind in Nova Scotia. It’s kept at 95 degrees Celsius and has different levels of water to accommodate each patient.

“It’s got a ceiling track lift to get patients in and out who aren’t able to walk,” says physiotherapist Carolyn Cowan. “It’s got a ramp so that patients who are using wheelchairs or unable to get up and down stairs are able to get in and out.”

Cowan says aqua therapy can help a wide range of patients.

“Patients with arthritis, other painful conditions like might have just had surgery,” she tells CTV News. “We also treat with acquired brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and other neurological conditions.”

Cowan says the pool helps patients, like Kenyon, who are weak get stronger and regain their range of motion.

“We help them to pursue their mobility goals. Hopefully, it’s usually to walk again, so we do a lot of that in the pool,” Cowan says.

Kenyon’s aqua therapy has progressed since December going from basic strength exercises to standing and walking with the help of the parallel bars or a walker.

“Which is a nice way to do it because in the pool there’s no ground to fall on, that fear is gone,” Kenyon says.

“Even if they’re standing in the pool, the buoyancy holds them up and the hydrostatic pressure of the water kind of stabilizes them so there’s less risk of falling, there’s less risk of hurting themselves, actually it’s pretty much eliminated and there’s much more freedom of movement in the pool,” adds Cowan.

All Kenyon’s hard work in the water is paying off on dry land.

“I went 50 metres in a walker just last week which is immense for change. I can go anywhere now without a chair on my own two feet which is huge,” he says.