After an illness, injury, or surgery, a patient's sensitivity to pain may be increased or the ability to bear weight on the injured area limited. Water supports the body, reduces joint stress, and provides both resistance and assistance to movement.
Benefits of aquatic therapy include:
- Less painful
- Decreased swelling
- Reduced stress and increased relaxation
- Improved muscle strength and tone
- Increased cardiovascular function
- Increased endurance
- Increased balance and coordination
- Increased circulation
- Increased range of motion and flexibility
- Promotes quicker rehabilitation
Four 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 weak limbs that are less able to bear 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 with temperatures ranging from 86-96 degrees. 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 swelling in the ankles and feet. Once swelling is reduced, joint tenderness may decrease and range of motion can increase.
Resistance - Allows for improvement in balance and strength in all muscle directions. On land, resistance is felt in only one direction, which can lead to an over development of some muscles and under utilization of others. Resistance also increases sensory awareness.
Who can benefit from aquatic therapy?
Though aquatic therapy is not recommended for certain medical conditions, the vast majority of people can participate with a physicians order. Those with back problems, knee injuries, ankle injuries, and those who have orthopedic surgeries are just a few of the individuals who may benefit from aquatic therapy. Other examples of conditions treated with aquatic therapy include:
- Sports Injuries
- Work Conditioning
- Joint Arthroplasty
- Neurological Conditions
- Orthopedic Conditions
- Repetitive Stress Disorders
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Chronic Pain Management
- Guillian Barre Syndrome
- Muscular Dystrophy
For more information about CMH's Aquatic Therapy program please call 419-542-5680.