Aqua Therapy – How it Works

Who doesn’t like to spend a day at the pool? I’m lucky that I get to do this as a job! I work providing aqua therapy to patients at The Center and it’s a joy to see patients improve in pain and function with use of our pool.

So how does aqua therapy help and who does it help? We need to look at some of the basic principles of physics and hydrodynamics to understand this. I will explain 3 basic principles of hydrodynamics and how each principle is beneficial to the human body. Then give some examples of which types of patients benefit from each of these principles.

Boyancy – Take the Stress Off

The Principle of Buoyancy, or Archimedes’ Principle, states that when a body is immersed in a fluid the body experiences an upward thrust equal to the weight of the fluid displaced. When a person is submerged in water they are “unweighted.” The deeper they are submerged the more unweighted they become. This takes pressure off joints and allows the person to move more freely than they could on land. This allows for increased range of motion and decreased pain in joints. Patients that benefit from buoyancy include those who are weak and deconditioned, those with arthritis, those with neurological diagnoses, and obese patients.

Hydrostatic Pressure – Improve Circulation

The Principle of Hydrostatic Pressure, or Pascal’s Law, states that pressure is exerted equally on all surfaces of an immersed body at rest at a given depth. Some of the benefits of Hydrostatic Pressure include reduction of edema, increased venous return and circulation, increased oxygen uptake, and assistance in building muscles of inspiration (diaphragm). Patients that benefit from Hydrostatic Pressure include those with COPD, Diabetes, developmental delay, pregnancy (venous pooling in lower extremities), ankle and knee injuries (edema control), and Lymphedema post mastectomy.

Turbulent Flow – Create Resistance

Turbulence is a disruption to water flow. In addition to the turbulence in water that general movement produces, we are also able to add increased turbulence by creating a current at our Cascade pool. This produces more challenge to balance and overall postural stability. Some of the benefits of turbulence in a therapeutic setting are: a method of increasing resistance, increased proprioceptive feedback, and challenges to balance and core muscle control. Patients that benefit from turbulence include those with Parkinson’s Disease and Cerebral Palsy (because it stimulates muscle firing to assist with balance), patients who need postural control and spine strength, those with weakness and muscle imbalance, and sports rehab patients.

If you think you would benefit from aquatic therapy please contact The Center!

Want to learn more about our aquatic program and watch a video to see how it works? Visit our page here.

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