Aquatic therapy assists in recovery from injury
Aquatic therapy is a modality of care that many physical therapists employ with great success. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, from joint sprains to fibromyalgia and offers a wide range of benefits. The water itself assists in patient healing and in peak performance of the exercises needed for healing and recovery.
One reason aquatic therapy is considered a gentle option is because of the buoyancy of water. This helps support the body weight of the patient and takes pressure off the joints as the patient is exercising. For patients with arthritis, healing bones or tendons, or those who are overweight or obese, this is particularly significant. Buoyancy decreases the overall amount of pain involved in most exercises.
Another benefit of aquatic therapy is that water’s natural viscosity creates resistance that allows for muscle strengthening without the use of weights. This resistance, combined with the water’s buoyancy, allows a patient to work on muscle groups with decreased joint stress in a way that can not be done in the gym.
A third benefit is the hydrostatic pressure of water. This decreases swelling and improves joint position awareness during aquatic therapy. Hydrostatic pressure produces forces perpendicular to the body’s surface, which provides joint positional awareness to the patient. This is particularly important for patients who have joint sprains. The hydrostatic pressure also helps to decrease joint and soft tissue swelling that may result after an injury or with arthritis.