Cancer Services - Head and neck - Laryngectomy & tracheostomy swimming - Aquather Service


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Laryngectomy & tracheostomy swimming - Aquather Service

Enabling neck breathing patients to re-enter the water


It is estimated that there are in excess of 5,000 patients living as laryngectomees in the UK. Alongside this over 5700 surgical tracheostomies were performed on adults during 2009/2010 - although only a percentage of these will be permanent. Patients who breathe through their neck following a permanent tracheostomy or laryngectomy are well recognised for reporting significantly lower Quality of Life (QoL) scores that do not necessarily relate solely to loss of voice or changes in communication. Reduced social reintegration and the inability to participate in enjoyed activities such as swimming have a detrimental effect not only on the individual's quality of life, but also that of their friends and loved ones. As a result there are many alarming reports of neck breathing patients swimming in water using make-shift homemade devices or by simply occluding their tracheostoma with their finger. This is EXTREMELY dangerous. Aside from swimming, patients who neck breathe are unable to undergo hydrotherapy. This device will enable neck breathing patients to undergo rehabilitation in the water again.


Many patients in Europe have returned to the water using a Heimomed AQUATHER device for neck breathers. The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust has approved a 12 month pilot service open to all UK applicants who wish to be reintroduced back into the water. The scheme will initially focus on laryngectomy patients but adult tracheostomy patients who have full capacity to understand and make decisions can also register their interest. A team of key professionals have undergone intensive training to ensure patients remain safe. The service is funded by FORCE and the cost of the device is covered by Macmillan for those who are financially eligible.




Am i eligible?

  1. Eligible Laryngectomy and Tracheostomy patients who want to learn to re-enter the water under safe and controlled training conditions
  2. Eligible Laryngectomy and tracheostomy patients who would benefit from therapeutic hydrotherapy
  3. Patients must have capacity and the ability to communicate effectively.
  4. Patients over the age of 18 years old






























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