The Ultimate Guide to Aquatic Therapy

The word aqua immediately conjures up images of water, and for good reason. Aqua is the Latin word for water, and therapy, of course, is a treatment designed to alleviate a problem. So put the two together, and you have aquatic therapy: treatment that takes place in water.

In fact, it can treat a wide variety of conditions, such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Hip pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Neck pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Neurological conditions
  • Sports injuries
  • Stenosis

In this read, we will get into more detail about aquatic therapy. Read on!

What is Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy, also known as pool therapy, water therapy, aquatic exercise, and hydrotherapy, is a type of physical therapy that uses water to help relieve pain and improve physical function. In the United States, only licensed medical professionals with the proper scope of practice and the competence to apply the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes may provide aquatic treatment.

In addition, it can provide a number of benefits for people with various conditions, including:

  • Improved flexibility
  • Decreased pain
  • Improved balance and coordination
  • Improved cardiorespiratory fitness

The buoyancy of the water helps to reduce the impact of gravity on the body as well as relieves pressure on joints and muscles. The water also provides resistance, which can help to improve strength and range of motion. In addition, the temperature of the water can help to relieve pain and improve circulation.

The Setting for Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic therapy can be performed in a heated or unheated pool. The therapist will determine the water temperature and depth based on the patient’s condition and goals. For instance, people with arthritis may benefit from warm water to help relieve pain, while people with sports injuries may benefit from cooler water to reduce swelling.

People can also perform aquatic therapy in a hot tub or whirlpool. However, these settings are typically not as therapeutic as a pool because the jets can cause pain, and the high temperatures can worsen conditions such as arthritis.

Aquatic therapy also features a variety of positions, such as standing, sitting, or lying down. The therapist will position the patient based on their condition and goals.

Equipment Used in Aquatic Therapy

You can perform water therapy with or without equipment. Your therapist will determine the type of equipment based on your condition and goals.

Some common pieces of equipment used in aquatic therapy include:

  • Pool noodles
  • Dumbbells
  • Life vests
  • Flotation devices
  • Theraband

Deep End vs. Shallow End

A standard pool is typically divided into a deep and shallow end. The therapist will determine which end of the pool is best for the patient based on their condition and goals.

The deep end of the pool is typically used for people who can walk and do not need assistance moving around in the water. People who need deep water distraction to relieve lower back pain can also use the deep end.

Meanwhile, the shallow end of the pool is typically used for people who have difficulty walking or need assistance moving around in the water. The shallow end is mostly used for strengthening and range of motion exercises.

Aquatic Therapy: Exercises

The therapist will design a specific exercise program for the patient based on their condition and goals. Some common exercises used in aquatic therapy include:

  • Leg lifts
  • Knee bends
  • Hip abductions
  • Arm and leg stretches
  • Aqua running
  • Jogging

Contact Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab

So, who can benefit from this therapy? The simple answer is, everyone! Aquatic therapy is a safe and effective treatment for a variety of conditions. Our team of licensed physical therapists at Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab are experts in designing individualized therapy programs to help our patients reach their goals.

If you or anyone you know is dealing with exercise-induced cramping or difficulty maintaining breathing during activity, please reach out to us at (570)-208-2787.