Aquatic Therapy: More Than You Would Think
By Angela Hite
Aquatic Therapy & Exercise As an abundant resource we are surrounded by water, yet many times we overlook some of the most powerful qualities that water offers, such as buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, temperature and comfort. Combined, these qualities create a perfect environment for purposes of aquatic therapy and/or exercise.
What’s the difference?
Aquatic therapy is an evidenced based/skilled practice provided by an occupational or physical therapist prescribed by a physician and typically reimbursed by insurance or Medicare.
Aquatic exercise is a generic term used to describe activity that takes place in the water generally delivered by an exercise professional and paid for out of pocket.
The buoyancy of water creates a reduction of gravitational forces, making exercise easier in the water than on land. It provides support and eases the stress on weak muscles and limbs thus providing a comfort unmatched by land-based exercises. Buoyancy also creates a resistive nature that leads to gains in strength, range of motion and balance.
Hydrostatic pressure (the natural compression on the body that water provides) exerts a comforting pressure on the overall body while reducing swelling in arms and legs. The improvement in circulation promotes healing to injured areas as well as stabilization of weak joints.
The temperature of the water plays multiple roles. For recreational use, water is generally kept between 84 – 86 degrees. For exercise, rehabilitation and relief of chronic conditions (back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia) water between 88-94 degrees is most advantageous to reduce muscle guarding and pain.
Water greatly improves adherence and success with your exercise regimen. For therapeutic purposes it allows rehabilitation to start sooner – perhaps even pre-surgery and faster recovery.
HEY! National Rehabilitation Week – September 19-25, 2010
Submitted by Angela Hite, Community Relations Director for Transitions Rehabilitation, located at Dove Healthcare – South & West and Wissota Health and Regional Vent Center. Transitions Rehabilitation has a solid history of helping people return home successfully. For more information, visit www.transitionsrehabilitation.com