Aquatic therapy is water-based treatments with a therapeutic intent in mind; in particular for fitness, physical rehabilitation and relaxation. These exercises are performed while the patient is in a temperature-controlled pool. Specifically, this therapy involves the patient to be floating, fully submerged, or partially submerged in the water while performing exercises. There are many therapeutic procedures that require the participation of a trained physical therapist. Most commonly, therapy focuses on improving the physical function associated with an injury or illness. There are many different types of exercises that utilize a aquatic therapeutic element to include aquatic bodywork, hydrokinesiotherapy and physical therapy. Each specific treatment can be active or passive; specifically involving the assistance of a therapist or caregiver. This type of therapy can be very useful for patients who are in constant pain and their physical endurance is weakened due to a disability or injury. The natural buoyancy of water reduces the amount of stress of the joints and this makes it possible for patient to perform rehabilitative exercises with less discomfort. Less discomfort for the patient means better effect of therapeutic practices.
The soothing properties of water along with the natural pressure helps to reduce joint and soft-tissue swelling. This combination is able to provide enough resistance to help patients strengthen their muscles. As stated above, pain and swelling is reduced with the hydrostatic pressure, which increase range of motion in patients. Additionally, aquatic therapy provides a calming effect for most people and with this effect, many people are able to “tune out” their surroundings and just enjoy being in the pool. Using the resistance of the water helps strengthen the muscles of patients in a less demanding mode, which positively impacts progress.
It needs to be said that aquatic therapy is not for every patient. Those suffering from fever or bowel and bladder incontinence are not suitable candidates. For those patients who are able to participate, use of a heated swimming pool helps aid back into therapy that is land-based. Many patients are unable to initiate this type of treatment at first, and being able to begin therapy in a soothing atmosphere is beneficial for a speedy recovery, both physically and mentally.