What is aquatic therapy?
Aquatic therapy, also known as water therapy, pool therapy, aqua therapy, or simply aquatics uses the therapeutic properties of exercises in water under the supervision of a certified aquatic therapist.
It is done to strengthen weak muscle or bone structure for better coordination and performance.
It encompasses every rehabilitation situation such as orthopedic, neurological, post-surgical, non-surgical, rheumatological and chronic pain.
These are water exercises that are performed under different situations, when floating and submerged fully or partially according to the patient’s personal treatment needs.
Water exercises are performed in specially designed temperature controlled pools under the watchful eye of a qualified aquatic therapist. One need not be a swimmer to participate in this treatment.
What are the benefits of aquatic therapy?
1.Improvement in balance and coordination:
Studies show that aquatic therapy exercises using the resistance of the water during exercises with under water treadmill have been tremendously helpful.
These scientific studies reinforce the fact that aquatic therapy provides a more challenging but promising workout environment to improve stability and balance.
Patient’s postural instability increases in an aquatic environment, when compared to land and the participants have to work harder to maintain balance and coordination.
The buoyancy provided by the water offers support to the body in case of a fall and also allows more reaction time and this helps in reducing the fear of fall in the patients which improves self-confidence leading to fast recovery.
The aquatic therapy exercises help in developing stability and balance in a safe way as there is a reduced risk of injury during a fall in an aquatic environment which is safer compared to a fall during exercises in land.
2.Reduction in pain:
Immersion in warm water has therapeutic effects and has been in use for various ailments since thousands of years, especially in South East Asian countries.
Warm water transfers heat to the body that comes into contact with it which sooths sore muscles, joints and bones .
It improves blood circulation resulting in fast recovery.
It stimulates and relaxes the skin.
It also opens skin pores and ripens latent boils if any for healing.
3.Reduction in rigidity, abnormal tone and spasticity:
Warm water above 92 degrees when used with suitable techniques reduces abnormal muscle tone after neurological injury.
Warm water Aquatic exercises can reduce spasticity which is a common issue with neurological injury. Besides, warm water environment minimizes spasticity and improves patient comfort.
Studies show that when oral medication is combined with aqua therapy, there is considerable reduction in spasticity.
4.Enhanced muscle strength:
Aquatic exercises, especially in warm water help in strengthening muscles as water offers more resistance than air which means one has to strain more during exercises resulting in improved muscle strength.
Warm water is comforting and causes more blood flow to muscles and tendons that has a soothing effect. Besides, the joints are not stressed during exercise due to the buoyancy of water.
Studies show warm water exercises lessen the muscle pain in the long run resulting in improved muscle strength and improved sense of wellbeing and more sociability.
5.Improved joint flexibility:
Water buoyancy reduces the effects of gravity on the joints that permits increase in range of joint motion. The warm water relaxes sore joints as it is easier to move under water without straining the affected body part .
In conclusion, we may say that there is ample clinical evidence that goes to show that aquatic therapy under a qualified therapist results in improved recovery times and outcomes. Rehabilitation under aquatic therapy is easy, as water buoyancy permits freedom of movement without fear of fall ideal for those suffering from restricted mobility due to various ailments. Enhanced muscle strength occurs due to the water resistance that needs extra effort during exercise. These benefits are difficult to duplicate in other forms of land based therapies.