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Christine Hodgson

Christine Hodgson's daughter Laura was diagnosed as suffering from kyphoscoliosis. In 1975, it was suggested that Laura, then aged two, might benefit from using the treatment pool at the Pump Rooms, which she did for about a year. Laura died in November 1976.

Laura had kyphoscoliosis and she couldn’t sit up straight. When she was referred to the orthopaedic hospital in Birmingham they made her a sort of plaster cast which really wasn’t very satisfactory. They then made her a polystyrene one, but they said the best thing to do would be for her to have as much movement as possible and if she could have a lot of movement in a warm bath, that was the best thing. Which of course we did at home, but it’s not altogether convenient lying a child in the bath, so we were referred to the Pump Rooms and we made her a little ring to go round her neck so she could float and she had a whale of a time there.

The year that she was three was the extraordinarily hot summer and it really was not good because she had to have a lot of water to drink and she could only take sips, she couldn’t actually drink properly and that really was when the Pump Rooms were good because it was nice, it was a nice warm damp environment for her. I do remember how friendly the staff were. It was good because they were used to handicapped children which was – well, not handicapped children, they had the modern view that people were as they were, so that you know, you could take a child in and nobody’ld look and think oh, there’s something rather funny about her, and they treated her as they would their own grandchild or child and it was just a really pleasant experience.

I think Anne [ Anne Golland, superintendent physiotherapist] who was in charge just more or less looked at her and decided that what she needed to do was to have the freedom just to move her arms and legs and to feel the water on her and that Laura herself would be able to do whatever she needed to do. The curvature of her spine was really very considerable and she really wouldn’t have been able to swim even if she had the mental ability to do so. I mean on her back obviously she’d kick her legs and what have you, but she would not have been able to float on her own because of the shape of her spine.

And was the treatment beneficial for Laura?

Oh yes, absolutely. I mean she, that was her sort of main entertainment was, she used to – she was our only child so you know, she’d have a good hour in the bath of an evening - that was always her main entertainment. I mean she could never speak but she could make sort of strange noises and she obviously enjoyed the bath because she’d sort of wave her arms and splash about. She could actually smile, but that was about the only thing that she ever really managed to do.