Learning to Move — in the Water

Lucille Renfro, 71, was working hard to get healthy and overcome a long-term back injury when she suffered a major setback: a stroke in October 2012.

The retired U.S. Postal worker went from rigorous physical exercise to recovery mode, learning how to talk and then to walk all over again, an effort that took years.

Balance was a serious problem. Even with a cane, every step was a struggle.

Finally, in 2017 she found Movement is Medicine, offered through HealthSpring Fitness and wanted to try it out because more traditional physical therapy sessions weren't helping as much as she'd hoped.

She was partnered with a trainer, Megan Thiedeman, whose first assignment was to test Lucille's mobility. That first session proved that lessons on land were not much of an option.

"She was in too much pain," recalled Megan. "So we decided to try the pool."

Only problem was that Lucille couldn't swim, nor did she feel comfortable even stepping into the water.

It helped that Megan got into the pool with her.

"I remember I held on and wouldn't let go," said Lucille with a smile.

But five or six sessions later, Lucille was like a new person, said Megan. "Now she can step in with confidence and float on her own. By the end of the Movement is Medicine program, she was fearless."

Being able to exercise in the water meant that she could move her body in ways not possible on land.

"I'm getting stronger," said Lucille. "I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm getting there."

She gets plenty of encouragement from her daughter, Terralyn Renfro and her two grandchildren.

"They say, 'C'mon, Grandma. You can do it.'"

Lucille's story is now being featured in a video promoting HealthSpring's Movement is Medicine Program. To view, visit HealthSpring.org.