Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

Two women in a pool doing exercise

I am really excited to write about aquatic therapy. Aquatic therapy is a type of therapy most people don’t know about and is not used or offered enough.

From my experience with therapy there are so many people have a hard time performing exercises on land due to weakness, significant pain, or on weight bearing restrictions .

Aquatic therapy has the same idea as physical therapy on the land, but it is performed in water. It is a beneficial form of therapy that is used for people with low activity tolerance, chronic pain, and a variety more medical conditions.

Buoyancy

When submerged in water, the buoyancy assists in supporting the weight of a person. This upward lift of water reduces the effects of gravity causing decrease tension, compression and stress placed on the joints. Consequently making  it is easier and less painful to perform exercises.

The buoyancy from the water is very particularly useful for patients with arthritis, who are overweight, or on weight bearing restrictions from and injury or surgery.

As demonstrated in the picture above, with aquatic therapy you are able to exercise in different depths in water to decrease the weight on that injured site or joints.

viscosity of water

You might be thinking what is Viscosity? In simple terms viscosity is the measure of its resistance when the is movement or disruption in the water.

In therapy we use the viscosity of the water to add resistance to help strengthen the muscles without the need of weights. Using resistance combined with buoyancy can allow a person to strengthen with decreased stress on the joints.

Hydrostatic Pressure

Hydrostatic pressure is the force exerted on the immersed body by fluid molecules.  Hydrostatic pressure makes a big impact when it come to aquatic therapy.

Edema

The benefits of hydrostatic pressure is it can reduce swelling in the body.  In any given depth of water the the water acts as a fully body pressure sleeve, which can be helpful with patient suffering from edema or swelling in a certain area.

Increases breathing capacity

When we breathe in and out causing the chest wall to expand and compress. Hydrostatic pressure applies constant pressure though this movement. This pressure forces us to release more air than we usually would exhale and helps the chest wall work more efficiently when exercising.

Decrease Sensitivity to Nerve Endings

With the constant pressure applied in the water, the nerve endings are constantly sending signals. The nervous system responds by dulling the pain and making it easier to move and workout. This is beneficial for amputees, fibromyalgia, back pain with radicular symptoms or a neurological disorder that causes hypersensitivity.

The best feeling for me is getting a patient in the water and the patient feeling so amazed that they can do so much more without the pain and restrictions they normally have.  

If you have any questions or are interested in trying out aquatic therapy feel free to contact us at [email protected] or at (801)980-0860.

Charlene Nordhoff, Physical Therapist Assistant