Aquatic Therapy is an effective treatment modality for patients who are unable, or unready to perform land-based physical therapy. The unweighting of painful joints (see buoyancy below) can help your PT address a multitude of conditions and diseases. For instance, patients with osteoarthritis and spondylosis can tolerate many more movements in the water than on land.
Applications: Some physicians use aquatic therapy as part of their post surgical protocol, including conditions such as spinal surgery and joint replacement. Other doctors, such as an OBGYN, use aquatic therapy for pregnant women looking to alleviate back pain. The benefits of aquatic therapy are far reaching and are increasingly supported by uncounted case studies.
Heat (91-94°F): The warmth of the water assists the body by relaxing muscles while increasing blood flow to the injured areas.
Hydrostatic Pressure: A perpendicular force is applied once the water surrounds the body. This ultimately allows for better blood circulation which can result in a reduction of swelling and joint tenderness. In addition, range of motion and proprioception can also improve.
Buoyancy: On land, gravity is the major force pushing on our bodies. While submerged in water, buoyancy assists in supporting body weight, countering the effects of gravity. These effects include the translation of weight through painful and/or arthritic joints. By reducing these forces on the involved joints, you are able to perform many activities that you may have otherwise avoided due to pain.
Water Resistance: The natural resistance of the water allows for muscle strengthening without the need for weights. Because there is no negative phase on each repetition, there are less stresses translated through the joint. You will experience improvement in balance and strength with all muscle groups exercised.
Musculoskeletal Benefits of Aquatic Therapy:
Buoyancy and hydrostatic pressure cause the central return of lymph and compression of soft tissues, which mobilizes extracellular fluid.
Bed rest is not always the answer to painful symptoms. Immersion during therapy can rapidly reduce edema and has the additional benefits intrinsic to exercise.
Blood supply to muscles increases. This improves oxygen delivery to muscles and improves removal of muscle lactate and other metabolic end products.
Increased muscle relaxation due to improved blood supply, neutral warmth of water and decreased sympathetic nervous system activity.
Some inhibition of spastic muscles probably because of decreased gamma fiber activity, which decreases muscle spindle activity.
Decreased joint compression forces.
Prepares soft tissue for mobilization.
If you’d like to learn more about us, don’t hesitate to call (281) 325-0188 or visit us at 20403 University Blvd., Suite 100, Sugar Land, TX 77478!
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