There are many different ways to deal with medical conditions such
as arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and fibromyalgia. Some doctors
prescribe medications while others recommend physical therapy. One
method that has been proven to help people deal with these conditions
is the use of aquatic therapy.
Therapists use water and activities that are specifically designed to
enhance, restore and maintain a person’s functional abilities. This
technique can be used for people with acute or chronic conditions.
After an injury, illness, or surgery, a patient may experience increased sensitivity to pain and lose some ability to bear weight on the affected area of the body. Water reduces the pull of gravity, which allows motion and functional activity to be more comfortable. Rehab pools are useful because water supports the body while reducing joint stress and providing resistance and assistance with movements. Patients can improve function and mobility at a rapid pace during the healing process. Some other benefits of aquatic therapy include improved muscle strength and cardiovascular function, reduced stress, decreased swelling, increased circulation and a higher range of motion. Increased flexibility, balance and coordination are also common results of aquatic therapy.
There are four components that make aquatic therapy unique from traditional therapies: buoyancy, heat, hydrostatic pressure and resistance. Buoyancy provides support by decreasing gravitational forces placed on weak limbs that are less able to bear weight. It lessens stress on muscles and joints, which allows a person to move more easily. Aquatic therapy is usually performed in a swim spa or heated pool, and the warm water relaxes muscles and improves the range of motion and flexibility. Hydrostatic pressure uses the water surrounding the body to help circulate blood from the legs to the heart, reducing swelling that can occur in the ankles and feet. The reduction of swelling will decrease joint tenderness while increasing the body’s range of motion. Resistance is felt in only one direction with traditional therapies, which can cause some muscles to become overdeveloped while others aren’t utilized as much as they should be. Aquatic therapy helps to improve muscle strength and balance by providing resistance in all directions.
People who have medical conditions such as muscular dystrophy or arthritis should consider aquatic therapy as an option when looking at possible treatments. It can also be used to treat repetitive stress disorder and relieve discomfort that may result from pregnancy.
- From Forrest W