What is aquatic therapy? Is it included in physiotherapy?

Aquatic therapy as a form of physiotherapy

Aquatic therapy, also known as aquatic rehabilitation or hydrotherapy, is a form of physical therapy that takes place in a pool or other aquatic environment. It involves the use of water and specialised exercises to help individuals recover from injuries, manage chronic conditions, improve physical function, and enhance overall well-being.

• Therapeutic aquatic exercise

• Where does aquatic therapy take place

• Burdenko Method

• Is aquatic therapy included in physiotherapy

Aquatic therapy pools

Aquatic therapy utilises the unique physical properties of of water to create a safe and supportive environment for rehabilitation. The buoyancy of water reduces the impact on joints and supports the body, allowing individuals to exercise with less strain on their muscles and bones. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with weight-bearing restrictions, such as those with joint pain, arthritis, or post-surgical recovery.

In the context of aquatic therapy, hydrostatic pressure plays a significant role providing therapeutic benefits to individuals in water safety. When a person is immersed in water, the hydrostatic pressure of the water exerts a uniform pressure on all surfaces of the body. This pressure is exerted evenly, including on the limbs, torso, and even internal organs.

The hydrostatic pressure experienced during aquatic therapy offers several advantages. Firstly, it helps to increase the blood flow and circulation. The pressure from the water compresses the blood vessels, aiding in the movement of blood through the body. Improved circulation can enhance the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and organs, facilitating the healing process and promoting overall well-being.

Secondly, hydrostatic pressure assists in reducing swelling and edema. The pressure exerted by the water helps to counteract fluid accumulation in the extremities, such as weak muscles in the arms and legs. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with conditions like lymphedema or those recovering from injuries or surgeries involving swelling.

Aquatic environment strengthens muscles

The water also provides resistance, which helps to strengthen muscles and improve cardiovascular fitness. Resistance in water is gentle yet effective, enabling individuals to gradually increase their strength and range of motion without putting excessive stress on their bodies.

Aquatic therapist

Aquatic therapy is conducted by trained professionals such as physical therapists or occupational therapists. They design customised treatment plans that address each individual’s specific needs and goals. Aqua therapy sessions may involve a variety of exercises and activities performed in the water, such as stretching, walking or jogging, swimming, balance training, and strength exercises using specialised equipment.

Therapeutic aquatic exercise

Aquatic therapy can benefit a wide range of conditions and populations, including:

Orthopedic injuries and post-surgical rehabilitation

It can help individuals recover from fractures, joint replacements, sprains, and other musculoskeletal injuries.

Neurological conditions

Aquatic therapy can aid in the rehabilitation of individuals with conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease, by improving mobility, balance, and coordination.

Chronic pain management

The buoyancy and warmth of body temperature in the water can provide pain relief for individuals with conditions like fibromyalgia, arthritis, and chronic back pain.

Developmental disabilities

Aquatic therapy can support the motor development and functional abilities of children with conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorders, and Down syndrome.

Fitness and wellness

Even for individuals without specific injuries or conditions, aquatic therapy can be an effective way to improve overall fitness, cardiovascular health, and relaxation.

Where does aquatic therapy take place

Aquatic therapy typically takes place in specialised facilities equipped with pools or hydrotherapy pools specifically designed for therapeutic purposes and spa therapy. These facilities may be part of hospitals, rehabilitation centres, or physical medicine and therapy clinics, or wellness centres.

The pools used for an aquatic therapy program are usually heated to a comfortable temperature, typically between 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (32 to 35 degrees Celsius), to promote relaxation and flexibility of the muscles. The depth and water temperature of the pool can vary depending on the needs of the individual and the specific goals of the therapy. Some pools have adjustable floors or ramps to accommodate individuals with different abilities or mobility levels.

These facilities may have various features to aid aquatic therapy programming, such as handrails, lift chairs, and access to specialised equipment like resistance jets, underwater treadmills, or flotation devices. The pool environment is often designed to provide privacy and a calm atmosphere conducive to healing and rehabilitation.

It’s worth noting that aquatic therapy can also be provided in other settings, such as community pools, when available and appropriate. In such cases, the therapy may be conducted by trained therapists who bring portable equipment and adapt the exercises to the pool’s conditions.

Before pursuing aquatic therapy, it’s advisable to consult with healthcare professionals or therapists to find suitable facilities and practitioners in your area.

It’s important to note that any water therapy should be conducted under the supervision of swim instructor or a qualified healthcare professional to ensure safety and appropriate progression of exercises.

Burdenko Method

Aquatic therapy is a valuable service that combines the benefits of swimming lessons with therapeutic effects to develop and improve the lives of patients, particularly children. The Burdenko Method, a renowned approach in aquatic rehabilitation services, offers a unique combination of skills and knowledge to enhance the effectiveness of this form of therapy.

One of the primary advantages of aquatic therapy is its low impact environment. Unlike land based exercise, which can exert stress on joints and muscles, the buoyancy of water reduces the burden on the body, making it an ideal setting for rehabilitation. Children, in particular, can greatly benefit from this gentle yet effective approach, allowing them to swim and engage in exercises without straining their young bodies.

The Burdenko Method, named after its founder Dr. Igor Burdenko, emphasises the use of water as a powerful tool for healing and fitness. Dr. Burdenko’s method focuses on improving circulation, muscle strength, and overall physical performance through a series of specialised exercises performed in the pool. By combining swimming techniques and therapeutic movements, the Burdenko Method offers a comprehensive approach to aquatic therapy that delivers remarkable results.

In the warm and soothing environment of hot water pools, children undergoing aquatic therapy experience not only physical benefits but also psychological and emotional well-being. The warm water itself’s comforting properties promote relaxation and reduce stress, fostering a positive and enjoyable experience. This aspect is particularly significant for children who may have anxieties or fears related to therapy.

Aquatic therapy, with its multitude of benefits, complements and enhances other forms of therapy. For children with diverse conditions or disabilities, the combination of land-based therapy and pool therapy can provide a holistic approach to their overall rehabilitation. The unique properties of water add an extra dimension to treatment plans, expanding the range of exercises and movements that can be performed while reducing the strain on the body.

The Burdenko Method, in conjunction with aquatic therapy, opens doors to new possibilities. Children can improve their motor skills, balance, and coordination while learning to swim in a supportive and nurturing environment. These skills, acquired through aquatic therapy, can have a profound impact on their lives, boosting their confidence and independence both in and out of the water.

The Burdenko Method is a highly effective approach for children undergoing rehabilitation. Its low impact environment, therapeutic effects, and combination with swimming lessons create a comprehensive platform for improving physical abilities and overall well-being. Whether for patients with specific conditions or those seeking to enhance their fitness levels, aquatic therapy offers a holistic solution that unlocks the potential for a better quality of life.

Is aquatic therapy included in physiotherapy

Aquatic therapy is a specialised form of physical therapy that facilitates rehabilitation and improve functional abilities. It is performed by qualified physiotherapists who have received additional training and certification in aquatic therapy techniques.

In the field of physiotherapy and alternative medicine, aquatic therapy is recognised for its unique benefits and is commonly employed as a treatment modality. Physiotherapists may incorporate aquatic therapy into their treatment plans for various conditions, including orthopaedic injuries, neurological disorders, chronic pain, developmental disabilities, and more.

By integrating aquatic therapy into physiotherapy sessions, physiotherapists can take advantage of the buoyancy, resistance, and hydrostatic pressure of water to relieve pain and optimise the rehabilitation process. The properties of water allow for low-impact exercises, reduced joint stress, improved circulation, increased range of motion, and enhanced muscle strength, among other physiological effects.

During aquatic therapy sessions, physiotherapists may employ a range of techniques and exercises tailored to each individual’s specific needs and goals. They may utilise specialised equipment, such as flotation devices, underwater treadmills, or resistance jets, to facilitate exercises and provide support as necessary.

Have further questions, call AHP today.

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