During aquatic therapy physical therapists use the water and specifically designed activities to restore a person’s functional abilities. Conditions treated can range from acute to chronic.
How does Aquatic Therapy work?
Water is a fun and engaging environment in which participants can move more freely. The physical properties of water allow for decreased weight-bearing, increased support, ease of movement, and resistance for strengthening.
Four specific components of Aquatic Therapy that ‘land-based’ therapies may not offer:
Buoyancy – Provides assistance and support. It is used to decrease gravitational forces placed on the body.
Buoyancy allows a person to move more easily with decreased stress on muscles, joints, and bones.
Heat – Aquatic therapy is provided in a heated pool. The warm water relaxes muscles and allows for improved joint range of motion.
Hydrostatic Pressure – The water surrounding the body helps circulate blood from the legs to the heart. This can help reduce swelling in the extremities, particularly the legs. Once swelling is reduced, joint tenderness can decrease and range of motion can increase.
Resistance – Allows for improvement in balance and strengthening in all directions that our joints can move. On land, resistance is generally felt in only one direction (that of gravity), which can lead to an over development of some muscles and under utilization of others. Resistance can also increase sensory awareness, and the resistance in water can be more multi-directional than on land.
What are the benefits of Aquatic Therapy?
Aquatic therapy has many benefits, such as:
• Normalization of movement
• Improvement in trunk control and postural alignment
• Increase in range of motion
• Increase in balance and coordination
• Improvement in perceptual and spatial awareness
• Improvement in motivation and arousal levels
• Increase in muscular strength and endurance
• Increase in cardiovascular endurance
• Decrease in pain and muscle spasms
People with the following conditions can benefit from Aquatic Therapy:
• Neck or back pain
• Orthopedic injuries
• Spinal cord injuries
• Other neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis, among others
If you’re interested in learning more about Aquatic Therapy, please feel free to contact TAI at the Athletic Club of Bend at 541-382-7890.