Water Therapy or Aqua Therapy has been around for as long as mankind. Water naturally provides a safe place for healing and restoration to occur. Think about the sound of rain on a summer day, the ocean, or even a river or creek of running water. Picture a pool or a glass of water glimmering in the sun. Everything about water is restorative, we love the sounds, the taste, the look and the feel of water. Water is essential for our survival. So naturally when I think of recovery from a therapeutic perspective, aqua therapy is always at the top of my list.
There are so many benefits to aqua therapy with a trained and licensed therapist. While using aqua therapy in a rehab setting we are very intentional with moving slow and keeping the patient feeling safe. Often times security in the water is our biggest concerns. So we spend time preparing for any kind of concerns we or the patient might have. When recovering from a stroke the water, might be the first place that a patient learns to walk again before trying to transition back to land. Water makes pediatric therapy fun and enjoyable, as well as a productive place for rehabilitation. Resistance from the water helps strengthen muscles, while buoyancy helps disguise the weaker muscles that are not quite strong enough to support on land.
Often times, water provides safe place for balance activities. A pool with a bench is an ideal place to start balance training to allow for seated balance activities and reaching for objects in a safe, supported atmosphere. Then progressing to sit to stands from the bench and finally standing balance. In standing, one benefit the water provides is an ability to challenge your balance to the max. Learning your limits in standing is important to learning to take a step. While in standing, your therapist might ask you to reach for objects and set you off balance to understand your limits. In this case, it is much better to fall in the pool than to fall on land, and this is why we practice these more involved balance reaction strategies in water.
Weight acceptance to the involved side is another benefit of the pool. When a patient is having difficulty standing on both legs with good posture the pool is the place to be. Shifting weight to the involved side for someone that has suffered from a traumatic brain injury can be very scary. The proprioception, or ability to tell where your body is in space, is usually damaged in the involved limb and the patient feels as though they are falling even though they appear to be standing upright with good posture. A good way to help them shift weight to the involved side is by supporting them on the weaker side and asking them to place objects with their strong hand from one side of their body to the other.
These are just a few reasons why we believe that Aquatic Therapy can be a necessary part of recovery here at Therafit Rehab.