Aquatic Therapy involves movement and exercise in a pool unloads joints to help reduce pain while improving strength, flexibility, and physical conditioning. Typically, therapeutic exercise in the water supplements their regular land-based rehabilitation program after an injury or surgery. For other patients with long-term conditions like arthritis, aquatic therapy is the gateway to independent pain management and fitness through water exercise.
This program helps many patients accelerate their return to prior function. The pool allows walking and running activities without full weight-bearing and incorporates those activities earlier in rehabilitation. The buoyancy of the water makes exercise easier on joints while the viscosity of the water allows multiple levels of resistance. Our programs typically involve one-on-one sessions and an individualized physical therapy exercise plan to meet the needs of each patient. Our Bremerton location routinely also provides some group programs for patients that do not need as much individual attention.
Who Benefits From Aquatic Therapy
Aquatic Therapy is perfect for anyone who requires limited weight-bearing, joint protection (those suffering with Arthritis, osteoporosis, and/or low back pain), or rehab with emphasis on cardiovascular and general strength conditioning. Those who have had surgery (ACL reconstruction, total knee arthroplasty, total hip arthroplasty, fusions, rotator cuff repair), low back dysfunction, athletic injuries, neurological conditions (including Parkinson’s, ALS, multiple sclerosis, stroke, or polio), or multiple injuries may also benefit from Aquatic Therapy.
Features of Aquatic Therapy
Water is an effective physical therapy tool because it provides buoyancy, which offers 4 unique properties.
- Gravity Reduced Environment
Water eases the stress on joint surfaces to reduce pain and inflammation and allows earlier post-injury or post-surgery intervention.
Buoyancy produces a force that supports 90% of a patient’s body weight in neck deep water.
Water exercises can be designed to allow for easier movement than on land. This means that you can generally do more exercises with less pain.
Exercises using the forces of water and turbulence allow for more difficult movement than on land. Increased resistance strengthens muscles.
Benefits of Aquatic Therapy
- Easier movement and less pain, water buoyancy supports body weight.
- Decreased perception of pain due to sensations of water temperature and pressure.
- Reduced swelling as a result of the constant pressure from water around the legs.
- Reduction in compression and vibration that cause pain on land.
- Safer strength training, resistance is spread evenly across the entire leg or arm.
- Safe environment for challenging activities that improve balance and prevent falls.
- Fun and challenging for people of all fitness levels because water offers so many ways to adjust the degree of difficulty.
- The heart works more efficiently and the body does not overheat in cool water.
- Prevents damage to joints and pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy because of the buoyant support of the water
Patient Responses to Aquatic Therapy
- “I can move so much more easily in the water – and it doesn’t hurt!”
- “I can always sleep much better the night after pool therapy.”
- “After doing this water exercise, I don’t feel like I need my cane anymore.”
- “Before starting aquatic therapy, I had never even owned a swimsuit. Now that I’m done with therapy, I’m in the pool for the arthritis exercise class three days a week.”
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