How Water Therapy Helps Rehabilitation

A swimming poolAquatic or water therapy involves an exercise program that is conducted in a heated pool. This provides buoyancy, as well as warmth for the patient who is recovering from surgery and injuries. 

Water therapy is used for patients with arthritis, back pain, leg, shoulder, and arm pain, fibromyalgia, ligament and tendon problems, and other injuries. Options like aquatic therapy are more soothing ways to help with some of your physical issues.

The pool is usually heated to 90 to 94 degrees Fahrenheit to provide relaxation for the body. In other words: it feels good! 

The warmth provides vasodilation of blood vessels that increases blood flow to injured or painful parts of the body. Aquatic therapy for back pain, joints, and other issues is quite helpful as well as popular.

Aquatic therapy is an excellent form of therapy that often prepares patients for more vigorous exercise programs out of the water. Aquatic therapy rehab is also used by athletes during training to treat muscle stress or recover from injuries.

Benefits of Buoyancy and Viscosity

The water cushions the body and prevents stress on joints. It decreases the pressure of weight-bearing by supporting the body. The water can reduce a person’s weight by up to 90 percent.

Aquatic physical therapy is frequently used for patients with bone fractures. It allows them to exercise without putting too much pressure on the injuries.

The viscosity of the water provides resistance. Anyone who has participated in water aerobics or water conditioning knows how the resistance provides a good workout while the body is supported by the water. 

The same concept applies to milder physical therapy rehabilitation in warmer water. The warmth of water therapy also helps the muscles, as talked about above.

Viscosity helps to strengthen muscles without the use of weights. Patients may use the same very light “water weights” used in water aerobics classes. 

These devices are used to strengthen the arms and shoulders. They may also use floats or Styrofoam noodles to assist with the water therapy regimen.

Walking in warm water is frequently part of rehabilitation programs to strengthen the legs, ankles, and knees. Water therapy can be used for patients who have experienced knee surgery or even knee replacement. This provides a comfortable exercise with less stress on the joints and lower body.

A woman floating on her back in a swimming pool

Benefits of Hydrostatic Pressure

Decreased swelling in joints and improved joint awareness result from the hydrostatic pressure of water therapy. This is a better proprioception for the patient with issues like joint swelling and other injuries.

The medical term proprioception refers to the ability of the body to adjust to the environment automatically. It enables you to walk without thinking about your space. Sensitive nerve endings in muscles and joints send a message to the brain indicating the position of the body.

People with balance issues, leg, and joint swelling can be helped through the hydrostatic pressure in the water. Torn ligaments, joint sprains, and other injuries often result in loss of balance.

It can be difficult to walk properly and automatically adjust to the surroundings. The hydrostatic pressure produces a force that is perpendicular to the body. 

This is part of the water’s support mechanism. It is also just one of the many benefits of aquatic therapy.

As a result, a patient can move about carefully in the water and relieve some soft swelling around joints. This is also a way to carefully treat major sprains and torn ligaments and to help regain a sense of balance. 

Water Therapy is a Starting Point

Many patients move on past water therapy to programs on land in our gyms. Their muscles have improved through aquatic therapy rehab programs, and they are ready for a more intense rehabilitation program. 

Here at Cawley Physical Therapy work with doctors to assist patients with the right physical therapy program to restore their baseline mobility. Options like water therapy are available for those that need time before they start more rigorous programs.

Learn more about what aquatic therapy can do for you. Contact Cawley Physical Therapy today.