Why Aquatic Therapy?
Aquatic therapy offers an alternative form of rehabilitation and can be used in conjunction with more traditional therapy.
The pool is an excellent medium in which to rehabilitate those with neurological and musculoskeletal problems. It provides an opportunity for people to exercise and gain strength while affording them a comfortable environment where they can re-initiate limb and body movement.
Four Specific Components of Aquatic Therapy
- Buoyancy - Provides assistance and support. It is used to decrease gravitational forces placed on weak limbs that are unable to bear much weight. 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, often reducing any swelling in the ankles and feet. Once swelling is reduced, joint tenderness can decrease and range of motion can increase.
- Resistance - Allows for improvement in balance and strengthening in all muscle directions. On land, resistance is felt in only one direction (that of gravity), which leads to an over development of some muscles and under utilization of others. Resistance also increases sensory awareness.
Who Can Participate?
Individuals with a variety of disabilities and orthopedic conditions can participate in aquatic therapy. People with back problems, knee injuries, ankle injuries, strokes, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, and those who have had orthopedic surgeries are just a few of the individuals who can benefit from aquatic therapy.
Careful screening and program development by a physical therapist will assure safe participation. Though aquatic therapy is not recommended for certain medical conditions, the vast majority of people can participate. Swimming experience is not necessary.