European Health Spas
In Europe, people with disabilities are encouraged to take health vacations at the spas. In fact, the German government places such a high value on lifelong health that it will often pay for civil servants' time away at the spa to improve health and resultant productivity on the job. A European health vacation for a person with a chronic neuromuscular impairment is covered by health insurance because it is viewed as a practical strategy to help prevent or delay the onset of new health problems, including secondary disabilities.
A holistic (comprehensive and integrated) wellness program there considers the whole person as a unit with interlaced parts that have a dramatic effect on each other. This type of program addresses a person's total needs: those of the mind, body, and spirit. For each of these three areas, a typical German spa program, for example, offers a time for information sharing, education, treatments and activities. Holistic programs include psychotherapy, stress management, cultural activities, customized exercise programs and nutrition education for weight management - all within the framework of one's disability.
The required elements of the spas' unique holistic approach include: a residential time away from home, a relaxed and aesthetically delightful environment, a group of individualized exercise, nutritional and recreational treatments, an individualized health education program, and a time to set goals for long-term follow-through of health enhancing behaviors. One would travel to and reside at a beautiful resort-village that is completely accessible, and has staff ready and willing to help customize a plan for a total wellness program - a fun-filled plan to earnestly enjoy and take part in.
|Water exercise class at a spa|
The goal of a holistic spa program is to maximize a person's physical, mental and emotional health. Programs are designed to set the person on a renewed life course toward greater health promotion and teach the participant how to incorporate health-enhancing behaviors into his or her everyday life. Werner Rink, M.D., Medical Director at Klinikum Passauer Wolf at the Bavarian health spa, Bad Griesbach, comments, "Austria also has a long tradition of spas, as well as the Czech Republic, which is just returning to the European market with its old spas that are now newly renovated and price-competitive."