Aquatic Therapy

What Is Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy is physical therapy conducted in the water, typically in a pool under medical supervision. It is also called water or hydrotherapy. Aquatic therapy is often used as means of physical rehabilitation for patients suffering from bodily limitations, such as muscle weakness, immobility, lack of balance, or poor posture, that prevent effective exercise on land. An aquatic environment compensates for these difficulties through buoyancy, which supports body weight and movement, hydrostatic pressure, which relieves swelling and joint pain, and temperature optimization, which maximizes circulation and limb flexibility. While water offers support, it also offers resistance, which is ideal for certain types of exercise. 

Aquatic therapy is increasingly recognized as a key component of a comprehensive physical rehabilitation program. To learn more about aquatic therapy, see the specialists in physical and occupational medicine at Baptist Health. 

Who Receives Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy can be beneficial for individuals with:

  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Neurological disorders, including peripheral neuropathy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Balance disorders
  • Surgical-recovery issues
  • Sports injuries
  • Work-related injuries
  • Osteoporosis and other orthopedic conditions.

Aquatic therapy isn’t appropriate for everyone, however. It’s not recommended for patients suffering from open wounds, incontinence, or seizures. Excluded, too, are persons with respiratory issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chlorine allergies, or an exaggerated fear of water (hydrophobia). Women experiencing complications from pregnancy may also be unsuited for aquatic therapy.  

How Does Aquatic Therapy Work?

Undertaking an aquatic-therapy program involves the following steps:

An initial evaluation of your medical condition, physical capabilities, and healthcare goals by a physical therapist prior to your entering the water.

Development of a customized treatment plan centered on stretches, exercises, and/or other physical activities, including tai chi and dance movements, in an aquatic setting.

Attendance at regularly scheduled therapy sessions that last from 30 to 45 minutes each.

Knowledge of swimming isn’t required for aquatic therapy. 

Aquatic therapy is usually coupled with other forms of therapy on land. The duration of treatment will depend on your medical condition, what you hope to accomplish, and how quickly you accomplish it. 

How Do I Start Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy is a proven rehabilitation alternative for persons with limited capacity to exercise on land. Water supports posture and weight while reducing inflammation and pressure on the joints. At the same time, water’s gentle resistance to bodily movement is a beneficial addition to any exercise program. Patients often feel physically and mentally invigorated by an aquatic therapy session. 

Contact Baptist Health physical therapy location to see if you’re eligible for aquatic therapy.

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