Health Plus: Waterhawk ski therapy - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: Waterhawk ski therapy


Waterskiing is no longer just for sport or entertainment.

Thanks to a unique partnership between the Waterhawks Ski Team and Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo, it's therapy.

Here's Health Plus:

It's not your typical therapy session.

"I'm a C-7, T-1 quadriplegic," said Shelley Jaspering.

But gliding across Eagle Lake in Evansdale is proving an effective way to rehabilitate patients.

"I've swam a couple times so the water wasn't too bad and then they held on to me so they let me get used to the water and then held on to me on both sides so I felt like I could get up. I told them not to let go!" she said laughing.

For nearly 20 years the Waterhawks Ski Team has partnered with the Covenant Medical Center Rehabilitation Department to offer an adaptive waterski clinic.

"It's a super program to bring the people in that in most cases wouldn't even get a chance to even try anything let alone something in the water like this," said longtime Waterhawk Clare Dixon.

The benefits go beyond the thrill of being on the water.

Gary Gilles, Jr., a certified recreational therapist said for "some people who've never waterskied, gives 'em a chance to waterski. Like I say it's just a little bit different because it's a ski they sit down in instead of stand up in for some people who've never waterskied in the past it's just a way to get back on the water and enjoy it, so it's showing people that they can get back on the water and do some of the things they used to do."

 "I'm a spinal cord injury. I'm a paraplegic. I always look forward to it at the end of the school year to come out here. It's a lot of fun," said Jon Litzkow.

It's true, the program works so well, many participants like Jon come back year after year.

Covenant has shared the benefits of the waterskiing program with others, from the Quad Cities to Florida.

By the way, the Waterhawks volunteer their time and equipment.

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