Crucial hydro pool closed due to structural damage

Crucial services for hundreds of physically and intellectually disabled children and teenagers in the Mid-West have ground to a halt due to structural damage to a hydrotherapy pool in Limerick, the only one in the region.

Many children have to get increased amounts of painkillers due to the closure of the facility at St Gabriel’s Centre in Dooradoyle. Others who were due to start a hydrotherapy programme will now have this deferred to next year.

Adults with conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, arthritis, spinal issues, strokes, and people undergoing major rehab have also been affected by the closure.

The 12m x 8m pool, which includes a toddlers’ area, was closed on February 16 when tiles came off. It will take another six weeks before the damage can be repaired.

Pool manager, Erin Hackett, said: “With a lot of children who have been on a lot of pain medication, parents have noticed that the children are not in as much pain after the hydro and are able to reduce medication. We have children coming who could not initially walk and through work in the pool can walk now with an aid or the help of a parent. The benefits are huge.”

It is estimated the damage will take €140,000 to fix.

St Gabriel’s has 67 day-care children ranging in age from four to 18, and more than 400 other children travel daily to avail of the facilities from throughout the Mid-West. One ‘sister school’ cares for autistic children.

Each month up to 3,000 people use the hydro pool and of these over 1,000 are children with varying conditions, including some babies with certain medical requirements.

Children with physical and intellectual issues receive one-to-one care by trained physiotherapists when using the pool. It costs €150,000 a year to run with some funding provided by organisations which cater for adults with various disabilities who use the pool.

“We don’t have any money to do the work yet, but we are pressing ahead and it will take about six weeks to carry out the work,” said Ms Hackett.

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