Aquatic therapy is physical therapy that takes place in a pool or other aquatic environment under the supervision of a trained healthcare professional.
Aquatic therapy is also known as water therapy, aquatic rehabilitation, aqua therapy, pool therapy, therapeutic aquatic exercise or hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy is simply water therapy, and it has been used for hundreds of years. Whirlpools, water spas, Roman tubs, common bathtubs, and swimming pools are examples of hydrotherapy.
Many people have some form available at their home or apartment.
The benefits of aquatic therapy, also called hydrotherapy, offers people with back pain a near weightless environment to stretch and exercise.
Use and Benefits
In a professional setting, the water temperature and agitation is varied depending on the treatment goal. Water temperature, coupled with agitation or vibration against the skin, can soothe and relax muscles.
Warmer water induces vasodilation: drawing blood into the target tissues.
Increased blood flow delivers needed oxygen and nutrients, and removes cell wastes. The warmth decreases muscle spasm, relaxes tense muscles, relieves pain, and can increase range of motion.
Cold-water therapy produces vasoconstriction, which slows circulation, reducing inflammation, muscle spasm, and pain.
Water is also an excellent base for exercise, providing an anti-stress environment for movement. Gentle water exercises use the water’s resistance to build muscle strength and flexibility.
Water exercise can benefit people who find weight-bearing exercise difficult (or painful) on dry land.
these terms are often used interchangeably by different people and in different countries. In the United States, hydrotherapy usually refers to a hospital-based physical therapy program for patients with wounds or other acute injuries.
In Europe and Australia, hydeotherapy is a term used to describe rehab exercises done in a heated pool.
Pool therapy was a term used by American physical therapists to describe exercise programs carried out in a pool. In the last 10 years, this term was changed to aquatic physical therapy to help distinguish it as a rehab program separate from group exercises.
Aquatic physical therapy begins with an individual exam and assessment. A specific treatment plan is developed for each patient based on past medical history, present illnesses and conditions, and any risk factors present.
The therapist uses his or her knowledge of hydrostatics, hydrodynamics, and the physiologic effects of immersion to prescribe exercises for each patient. Evidence from research studies is used to avoid exercises that are not beneficial and to include those that have the greatest potential to help the patient.
When evaluating an advertised pool program, it’s best to ask some questions about what is offered and who is providing the class. In the case of mild arthritis, a general pool program may be all that’s needed.
For patients with more complex problems or more advanced arthritis, an aquatic physical therapy program may give the best results.