Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic Therapy

For many patients moving and performing exercises on land can be difficult and painful. The water can help achieve goals that might be more challenging on land by utilizing the unique properties. 

Some of the properties include:
Buoyancy: counterbalances gravity (downward thrust) and supports the body. When the body is fully or partially immersed in water there is an upthrust that is equal to the weight of water displaced. For instance when someone is in waist deep water they are only feeling about 50% of their weight placed upon their joints making it easier to move and less painful.

Hydrostatic Pressure: the pressure exerted by the water on all surfaces immersed. The deeper the body part the more pressure, more pressure at ankles vs the chest. This is helpful with patients whom are experiencing swelling in the lower extremities. The pressure helps with decreasing fluid pooling in the lower portions of the extremity. It also helps with decreasing heart rate during exercise because of the shift of blood to the chest.

Viscosity: due the thickness of water, versus air,  an increase in resistance against the muscle occurs. The viscosity of the water allows the patient to work multiple muscle groups at one time and depending on the speed of the exercise perform will determine the resistance.
Aquatic therapy is great for a wide range of diagnoses:
  • Arthritis/joint pain
  •  Athletic/cardiovascular training
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Neurological Disorders
  • Short-term therapy with transition to land-based rehabilitation
  • Post-surgical rehab
However aquatic therapy is not for everyone. Conditions that are not recommended
going into the pool are:
  • Uncontrolled epilepsy
  • Incontinence
  • Infectious disease
  • Open wounds
  • Skin infections
  • Uncontrolled blood pressure
  • UTI’s 
  • Chlorine sensitivity
Overall using the properties of the water can help with muscle relaxation, decrease joint stiffness, improve circulation and flexibility, stimulate body awareness, balance and core stability while giving you the freedom of movement while decreasing your pain. 

Kerra Pietsch, LPTA, CFNC
Andover Physical Therapy 

September 4th, 2015

Posted In: General

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