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What is Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy, also known as pool therapy or hydrotherapy, is a type of therapeutic exercise that takes place in warm water. It is designed to improve movement and reduce pain. The water’s properties such as buoyancy, viscosity, hydrostatic pressure, and surface tension aid in rehabilitation.

  • Buoyancy: This property of water decreases weight bearing and reduces impact on joints, making it easier for patients to move and exercise.
  • Viscosity: The resistance offered by water during aquatic therapy helps strengthen muscles.
  • Hydrostatic Pressure: This pressure exerted by water helps in improving lung performance and cardiovascular function.
  • Surface Tension: The surface tension of water can be used for resistance exercises in aquatic therapy.

Who Can Benefit from Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy can be beneficial for people recovering from injuries or with chronic conditions like arthritis or partial paralysis and plays a vital role in pain management. It also aids in concussion rehabilitation, hand therapy, neurological rehabilitation, pediatric therapy, cancer rehabilitation, and speech therapy.

  • Concussion Rehabilitation: Aquatic therapy can help improve balance and coordination after a concussion.
  • Hand Therapy: The resistance of water can help strengthen hand muscles and improve fine motor skills.
  • Neurological Rehabilitation: Aquatic therapy can help improve muscle strength, balance, and coordination in patients with neurological conditions.
  • Pediatric Therapy: For children with developmental delays or injuries, aquatic therapy can be a fun and effective way to improve motor skills.
  • Cancer Rehabilitation: Aquatic therapy can help improve strength and endurance in patients recovering from cancer treatments.

What Exercises are Included in Aquatic Therapy?

Some aquatic exercises include arm exercises using hand webs or water weights, and resistance exercises using a kickboard.

  • Arm Exercise Using Hand Webs: This exercise helps to strengthen the arm muscles and improve range of motion.
  • Arm Exercise Using Water Weights: This exercise helps to build strength and endurance in the arms.
  • Resistance Exercise Using a Kickboard: This exercise helps to strengthen the lower body and improve cardiovascular fitness.

Who Should Avoid Aquatic Therapy?

People with open wounds, some skin conditions, certain cardiac conditions, incontinence, uncontrolled diabetes, and high blood pressure should not participate in aquatic therapy.

  • Open Wounds: Open wounds can be a risk for infection in a pool environment.
  • Cardiac Conditions: Certain heart conditions could be exacerbated by the physical exertion of aquatic therapy.
  • Incontinence: For hygienic reasons, individuals with incontinence should not participate in aquatic therapy.
  • Uncontrolled Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to complications that may be worsened by aquatic therapy.
  • High Blood Pressure: The warm water used in aquatic therapy can cause blood pressure to rise, which could be dangerous for individuals with high blood pressure.

How Does Aquatic Therapy Help with Pain?

Warm water in aquatic therapy helps relax muscles and increase blood flow, which can reduce pain. The water’s support also helps relieve pain and increase joint range of movement.

  • Muscle Relaxation: The warm water used in aquatic therapy can help to relax tense muscles, reducing pain and discomfort.
  • Increased Blood Flow: The warmth and movement of aquatic therapy can help to increase blood flow, promoting healing and reducing pain.
  • Joint Support: The buoyancy of water provides support for the joints, helping to relieve pain and increase range of movement.

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