by Molly Robuck
Aquatic therapy can have lots of names: water therapy, aquatic rehabilitation, aqua therapy, pool therapy, therapeutic aquatic exercise, or hydrotherapy. It is an exercise and/or treatment done in a swimming pool with a physical therapist or occupational therapist. It can be used for relaxation, rehabilitation, fitness, and other therapeutic activities. Now, some may think that aquatic therapy is only for those who have pain in their muscles, joints, or ligaments. However, it can also be greatly beneficial for those with autism and other development disorders as well.
There are many benefits to doing aquatic therapy. I could tell you about all of them, but we would both be here all day. So I am just going to tell you about a few of the mental and physical benefits to this therapy.
- It increases joint flexibility;
- So, when you have an affected body part it will float, making it less painful and easier to move.
- It improves balance;
- With the buoyancy and the pressure of the water it provides support to your body, so you won’t have the fear of falling.
- It decreases pain;
- Soaking in warm water can increase a person’s comfort. Warm water helps by increasing the blood supply to the affected area of the body.
- It builds muscle strength;
- Since water is 600+ times more resistive than the air, it allows strengthening of the weak muscles.
Possible Mental Health Benefits
- Reduces depression
- Reduces anxiety
- Improves functional autonomy
- Decreases oxidative stress in depressed elderly people
It is important to note that not everyone should do aquatic therapy! Those with cardiac disease should not participate in aquatic therapy. If you let your therapist know of any pre-existing conditions, they will help determine if aquatic therapy is right for you.
The Aquatic Therapy Experience
First let’s hear from one of our Physical Therapists who provides Aquatic Therapy to clients.
“I am so thankful to have aquatic therapy as an option for treating clients. The buoyancy of the water allows clients to be able to be successful with activities that they might struggle with in the clinic as there is less stress on the joints in the water, while the resistance from the water creates the opportunity to build muscle strength and work on balance. I find this especially helpful when working with people with chronic pain, fibromyalgia, low back pain and low leg injuries. It is exciting for clients to be able to move better and with less discomfort especially when they aren’t able to tolerate many activities on land. The strength and improved mobility achieved in the water then transfers nicely to help increased function out of the water as well.” – Liz Vermeer, PT, DPT
Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what an Aquatic Therapy client had to say about her experience at Kinetic Edge.
“When I came to Kinetic Edge and Liz Vermeer, I was not very mobile at all because of a serious muscle wasting disease. Liz worked hard to find the best option to get me moving. We worked on balance (w/ paralysis in both lower legs & feet). Knowing water therapy would be a good option, we found a way to safely get me in the pool. It made a huge difference in my recovery. I’m walking without a cane or walker. My advice – give aquatic therapy & Liz a chance – it works wonders!” – Sandi Joy Milby