Aquatic physical therapy is growing in popularity as a safe complement or alternative to traditional land-based therapy that is suitable for children and adults of all ages and fitness levels. The soothing properties of water appeal to those in search of treatment that can heal the body while improving rehabilitation time frames, fitness levels or reducing overall stress levels.
What is Aquatic Physical therapy?
Aquatic Physiotherapy is physical therapy that takes place in a pool or other aquatic environment under the supervision of a trained healthcare professional. Aquatic therapy is also known as water therapy, aquatic rehabilitation, aqua therapy, pool therapy, therapeutic aquatic exercise or hydrotherapy.
Where did this idea of Aquatic Physiotherapy originate?
Water therapy has been used for thousands of years throughout the world. For example:-
- Ancient Greeks and Romans bathed in hot springs to improve circulation and promote relaxation.
- Hippocrates recommended bathing in spring water as a way to treat sickness.
- Swiss monks were known to use thermal waters to treat sick or disabled people in their community.
- Japanese hot springs, or onsens, are said to have medicinal effects that include healing chronic pain, treating skin problems, curing menstrual disorders and relieving constipation.
- German physicians were firm believers in pediatric water therapy. Water birthing was very popular throughout Germany in the 1960s and 1970s and also prevails till date.
- The basic aim of Aquatic Physiotherapy
- Improving flexibility
- Improving balance and coordination
- Building muscle strength and endurance
- Enhancing aerobic capacity
- Assisting with gait and locomotion
- Reducing stress and promoting relaxation
Advantages of Aquatic Physical Therapy
Water, the basic component and the most important in aquatic physiotherapy contributes to all advantages derived from this therapy. Some of them are:-
- Warm water provides a relaxing and soothing environment for aching joints and muscles.
- Water’s natural viscosity or resistance can be used for muscle strengthening and increasing rehabilitation progressions.
- Buoyancy allows for flotation and reduces the effects of gravity on injured or aching joints and muscles.
- Hydrostatic pressure supports and stabilizes the client, allowing people with balance deficits to perform exercises without a fear of falling, decreasing pain and improving cardiovascular return.
- Turbulence and wave propagation let the therapist gently manipulate the client through the desired exercises.
- The respiratory muscles are forced to work harder in the water, allowing for a natural strengthening that benefits the client long after the therapy session has ended.
Diseases that can be cured by Aquatic Physiotherapy
Aquatic physiotherapy may be helpful for patients suffering from the following conditions:-
- Arthroscopic surgery recovery
- Balance disorders
- Aquatic Video LibraryBursitis
- Cerebral palsy
- Chronic pain
- Idiopathic joint pain
- Joint reconstruction surgery recovery
- Joint replacement surgery recovery
- Lower back pain
- Orthopedic injuries
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Spinal cord injury
- Sprains and strains
- Traumatic Brain Injury
When to avoid Aquatic Physiotherapy?
Some situations where you should avoid Aquatic Physiotherapy:-
- High fever
- Open wounds (unless covered with appropriate dressing)
- Uncontrolled seizure disorders
- COPD or other similar respiratory issues
- Currently taking medication that could alter cognition
- The client is currently pregnant and experiencing complications
- Chlorine or bromine allergy
- A serious fear of water
- Clients with Hepatitis A
Where to go for aquatic physiotherapy?
Water therapy services are generally offered in hospitals, sports medicine clinics, and traditional outpatient rehabilitation centers. Senior living centers may also provide aquatic therapy services as a way to encourage their residents to maintain or improve fitness levels, balance, and strength.