Aquatic therapy, also known as water therapy, pool therapy or hydrotherapy, is a therapeutic form of therapy performed in the water. Using water rehabilitates patients while avoiding the stress of the patient’s body weight on their joints. Aquatic therapy uses the natural resistance of water for weights. Aquatic therapy improves flexibility, range of motion, strength, balance, and coordination for patients with a variety of diagnoses. Exercise and rehabilitation are possible for those unable to participate in land based exercise. It is particularly beneficial for patients with chronic illness, advanced osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, obesity and directly after spine surgery.
The goal of aquatic therapy is to maintain strength, conditioning and improve overall function. All aquatic exercise programs should be initiated after a complete evaluation by a certified physical therapist. Patients typically begin with shallow water exercises and advance to deep water exercises in order to prepare for land therapy.
Working out in the water reduces the amount of weight the spine and joints have to support. Patients with soft tissue injury, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or orthopedic disorders benefit from the buoyancy of water. Water buoyancy supports about 50 percent of a person’s body weight when immersed waist-deep and about 75-90 percent of body weight for a person immersed up to the neck. Submersion decreases weight bearing, allowing individuals who cannot weight bear on land the opportunity to support their body weight with minimal effort under water. This allows one to support weak muscles while enhancing flexibility and range of motion
Water therapy improves muscle tone and endurance, and increases cardiovascular function. Benefits include increased blood flow, increase in metabolic waste removal, and increased oxygen delivery to muscle tissue. Exercising in water creates resistance, which can aid in increasing muscle strength and stamina for people who have been inactive. It also helps maintain strength for those who are currently active. For an even greater benefit, resistance devices can be used as a tool to increase the resistance for greater outcomes.
For many patients, water therapy can allow the physical therapist to achieve goals in a shorter time. Water therapy exercise programs can include a variety of treatments specifically designed to provide low back and neck pain relief.
Aquatic therapy can help those with:
- Spine Disorders
- Acute injuries
- Post-surgical patients
- Joint replacements
- Motor skill deficiencies
- Neurological issues
- Orthopedic injuries
- Sensory disorders
- Inadequate oral facial control
- Perceptual and spatial issues
There are many types of aquatic therapy available that may help patients to achieve their goals. Some are very active and others are passive and meant to reduce the stresses on the body to generate a calming effect to reduce pain/tone. Our Physical Therapists at Virginia Therapy & Fitness Center incorporate multiple types of aquatic therapies and principles to design and develop appropriate therapeutic treatment plans to help meet patients’ goals. In addition to the benefits of regular exercise, aquatic exercise provides additional benefits that should encourage you to think about incorporating it into your exercise regimen.
Virginia Therapy & Fitness Center
1831 Wiehle Avenue, Second Floor • Reston, Virginia • 20190