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David Sisk, DPT
Aquatics as an Alternative PT
La Plata Physical Therapy, Inc.
. http://www.laplatapt.com/

Aquatics as an Alternative PT

Aquatic settings for physical therapy plans of care can provide benefits and options for patients that would otherwise have a low tolerance for physical therapy and therapeutic exercise in a standard setting. Aquatic therapy can be an option for patient populations with presentations ranging from post-surgical rehabilitation such as joint replacements and spinal fusions, osteoarthritis, chronic pain, to gait & balance and fibromyalgia.

Patients that suffer from osteoarthritis greatly benefit from the buoyancy effect of water due to hydrodynamic principles that reduce relative body weight, the body is partially submerged. As a result, patients are able to perform exercises and aquatic treadmill ambulation with less pain compared to when performing them on land due to reduced compression forces acting on joints in the spine and extremities.

Hydrostatic pressure is another important component of the aquatic therapy setting. The additional force of water on the body during exercise promotes increased utilization of core muscles, improves circulation, and promotes an increase of oxygen delivery to areas of the body that require healing. This same principal can also be effective for reducing swelling in the extremities due to the sense of drag that is created during movement through the viscosity of the water. The potential benefits for rehabilitation in this alternative setting can be quite effective in lieu of standard physical therapy.

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