A BETTER SWIMSUIT FOR WATER THERAPY

Physical Therapy Advance | September 21, 2015 By 2020, an estimated 60 million adults in the United States (36 million women) will be diagnosed with arthritis.

According to the CDC, arthritis is the greatest single cause of chronic pain and disability, has a profound impact on quality of life, and creates a huge and possibly unsustainable burden of medical costs.

The CDC and the Arthritis Foundation (AF), in the 2010 National Public Health Agenda for Osteoarthritis, predict that half of our 78.2 million Baby Boomers will develop osteoarthritis of the knee. Among obese adults, that number will be 2 out of 3.

Ten years ago, 632,000 joint replacement surgeries were performed annually; in 2014, there were more than one million. Effective, evidence-based, nonsurgical interventions are available, but not well understood by the public.

Physical therapists and other health care professionals are urged to educate patients about self-management and lifestyle modifications and to promote low-impact, moderate-intensity aerobic physical activities that reduce pain and increase mobility. Exercise in a warm-water pool is an excellent choice.

Even women who are afraid of water and don’t know how to swim respond well to programs such as the Arthritis Foundation’s Water Exercise for Arthritis program once they learn that you stand on the floor of the pool the whole time, and don’t need to get your hair wet.

Finding water exercise classes is usually not a problem. The exercise itself is not a problem. Participants say that moving in warm water is “heavenly.”

The problem for many women with arthritis and other functional limitations is getting into a swimsuit. Lots of women hate swimsuits.

Getting into one is a painful struggle. Getting out of a wet suit is even harder. T-shirts and shorts are not comfortable for water aerobics. You need a real swimsuit that provides coverage and support, and that stays in place.

I was inspired to invent a better swimsuit when my sister could no longer put her suit on because of pain in her hands and back. Most one-piece suits have to be pulled up hard to get over the hips. Getting arms into shoulder straps requires external rotation and more pulling and twisting.

The genius of the Stepin2now is a two-sided design that provides the look, coverage, and support of the traditional one-piece swimsuit, but is much easier to put on. Instead of a top and a bottom like a tankini, it is made of two diagonal, vertical half-suits. Each side has one shoulder strap so the arm slides in easily.

Samples were submitted to the Accessibility Evaluation Facility at Georgia Tech University to determine how easy the Stepin2now is for people with arthritis and other functional limitations. Test subjects with mild-to-severe arthritis evaluated whether the Stepin2now, compared to a traditional one-piece women’s swimsuit, achieves four objectives: reduces fabric “friction” or “pull;” provides easier access for the legs; reduces stress on arms and shoulders with independent shoulder straps; and reduces the need to twist the spine while bringing the suit up over the hips.

The Stepin2now met rigorous consumer product testing standards and received the highest possible overall subjective assessment ratings for how easy it is to use.

Stepin2now is available in sizes 2-14 in four colors. Visit www.stepin2now.com.

Resource

1. A national public health agenda for osteoarthritis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arthritis Foundation, 2010. Accessed via www.cdc.gov/arthritis/docs/OAagenda.pdf

Anne Byrnes is a retired licensed clinical psychologist and former director of the University Counseling Center at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, N.Y. She can be reached at anne@stepin2now.com or 800-862-4662.