Aquatic Therapy is a pool-based physical therapy program which has been proven to be a beneficial alternative for many patients seeking rehabilitation and reconditioning.
The rehabilitative benefits of pool therapy are well-documented. It has been shown that this type of program increases the speed of rehabilitation because it can begin earlier; exercises can be more easily graded; patients are psychologically rewarded by prompt activity; antagonistic muscles are worked simultaneously through equal resistance in any direction; and atrophy is reduced.
Another feature of pool therapy is the positive effect of warm water which is the most efficient heat form in rehabilitative care. Muscle movement is easier, a greater range of motion is attained, and the soothing quality of water reduces stress which increases patient compliance. Additionally, aerobic training effects can be accomplished and no skills are required. This form of rehabilitation is safer due to reduced risk of falling, patients are more easily maneuvered and bones/joints/muscles are less subject to stress injury.
The unique physical properties of water (buoyancy, viscosity and hydrostatic pressure) add new dimension to the physical therapy program prescribed by the physician.
Buoyancy - This property of water releases the patient from the risks and trauma of gravity loaded exercise programs by dramatically reducing weight bearing and the problems related to it, such as joint pain, and allows the patient to perform movements which would not be possible otherwise.
Viscosity - The friction of movement caused by this distinctive property of water is variable in intensity and is constant throughout the entire range of motion, thus promoting an all-inclusive exercise program.
Hydrostatic pressure - The pressure of water has several beneficial effects upon an individual’s exercise program. Resistance to movement enhances the effectiveness of any exercise performed in water. Water pressure also acts as a support to stabilize patients who may experience equilibrium difficulties. An added benefit of hydrostatic pressure and exercise is the reduction of swelling.
This is one of the treatment options which a physician may prescribe prior to the physical therapy evaluation. The doctor may choose to consult with the therapist and/or patient regarding the anticipated results before making a recommendation to the Aquatic Therapy program.
In summary, Aquatic Therapy provides an alternative treatment option to the overall management of a rehabilitative program. It is not intended to replace land-based programs but to expand the total capabilities of the therapeutic team.
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