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Aquatherapy

(Aquatics Therapy)

Aquatics or Pool Therapy is a special branch of therapy that utilizes water (aquatics) as a medium where individuals can perform physical and sensory-perceptual exercises that can restore bodily functions and promote overall well-being.

For centuries, several properties of water (chemical, thermal and mechanical) have been used therapeutically. But it was not until the 20th century when it was realized that other physical properties of water can improve circulation, muscle tone, physical strength and endurance, range of motion, and balance and coordination. It was then known as underwater therapy.

In the 1920s, it was Charles Lowman who was the first to employ underwater exercises to patients with spasticity. He installed an outdoor treatment pool at the Orthopedic Hospital in Los Angeles in 1924 where the present popular use of pool or aquatics therapy in the United States has its propitious beginnings. Along with Roen, they developed definite underwater treatment procedures.

To a large extent, the effectiveness of aquatics or pool therapy depends on the skills of the therapist working with the patient and his understanding of the physical forces which operate in water.

01Hydrostatic Pressure – is defined as the ratio of the magnitude of the force exerted by the fluid per body surface area. Hydrostatic pressure has the following effects on the human body:

  • Increased venous flow
  • Increased lymphatic flow
  • Increased urine output

02Buoyancy –is defined as the upward force equal to the amount of liquid displaced by an object immersed in it.

  • Movement of limbs that occur in the same direction as buoyancy assists patients in performing the exercises
  • Movement of limbs that occur in the opposite direction provides resistive exercises
  • Buoyancy may be affected by:
    1. Postural alignment
    2. Surface area immersed
    3. Weight of the bones in relation to muscle and fat
    4. Vital (lungs and heart) capacity

03Viscosity – is defined as the property of a liquid to resist any relative motion within it

  • Increases the distance or range of motion (ROM) of the part being exercised
  • Improves strength of muscles by:
    1. Increasing speed of ROM
    2. Increasing the ROM
    3. Increasing the number of repetitions of the movement
    4. Altering the initial position of the part
    5. Altering the manual resistance that is typically provided by a therapist or a device

04Density – is defined as mass per unit volume of the substance; has a direct effect on pressure. As density increases, pressure also increases.

05Specific Gravity – is defined as the ratio of the weight of a volume of substance to the weight of an equal volume of water.

We have highly trained professionals who can facilitate underwater exercises in an effective and safe manner.

Therapeutic Aquatics versus Adaptive Aquatics

Therapeutic aquatics refer to the condition where one of the goals for child is to learn swimming as a form of recreation. On the other hand, in adaptive aquatics, the trainer/therapist works to make the child’s form of mobility or stroke underwater easier and more efficient.

Therapeutic Effects

  • Sedative effects because of the warmth of the water
  • Provides easy mobilization of affected and unaffected parts
  • Relieves cerebral congestion because of the dilation of the peripheral blood vessels
  • Provides an avenue where patients can be treated safely to meet the exercise requirements at an earlier date than would otherwise be possible

Applications:

Muscle weakness seen in:

  • Peripheral nerve lesions
  • Polyneuritis
  • Poliomyelitis
  • Post encephalitis
  • Fibromyositis
  • Ongenital neurological defects
  • Preposthetic stump preparation
  • paraplegia
  • psychiatric patients/conditions

Neuromusclar cases

  • Pos surgical plastic surgery of muscles tendons and joints
  • Post-traumatic injuries (such as that of the back and knees)

Postsurgical hip and leg conditions

  • Arthroplasty
  • Congenital dislocation of the hip
  • Fractures of the femur repaired by pinning or grafting

Contraindications

  • Febrile conditions
  • Cardiac decompensation
  • Acute inflammation of joints or active joint disease
  • Acute painfl neutitis or nephrtis
  • Infections of the eyes, ears, throat and nose
  • Active PTB, , poliomyelitis
  • Infected skin conditions
  • Menstruation
  • incontinence

Prescription

This should include the diagnosis , physiological response desired and the frequency and duration of the treatment. Length of treatment depends on the physiological response desired.

References

  • Therapeutic Aquatics NDT. therapeutic-aquatics-info.htm
  • Hydrotherapy and Massage Lecture Notes. Fatima Medical Science Foundation, Inc
  • Aquatic Therapy Flier. Movement Discoveries Pediatric Therapy Center

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