The Right Questions to Ask About Aqua Therapy
We know water has healing powers. Listening to water flow can create a sense of relaxation. Furthermore, our bodies are comprised of 70% water so it is no wonder that water is vital to our well-being. Water helps us stay hydrated, keeps our bodies detoxified, helps our skin glow, and plays a role in relieving conditions like headaches, stomach aches, heartburn, and asthma. But did you ever stop to think that water also creates an optimal environment for our bodies to exercise in during recovery?
Hydrostatic pressure exerted by water improves blood flow promoting reduced swelling. Additionally, warm water temperature aids with oxygenation and also circulation, causing the joints to relax, muscles to reduce spasms and body aches to decrease. Water creates a buoyant surrounding, allowing the body to experience weightlessness while providing natural resistance. The increased resistance, when compared to air, enables the body to engage more muscles to create stronger muscle contractions and work much harder to increase cardiac output than on land, without the need for weights.
Water therapy is gaining more popularity as it’s helping more and more individuals recover with mobility and function without placing weight and pressure on the joints, muscles, and bones – making it perfect for rehabilitation. Often referred to as hydrotherapy, aqua therapy or balneotherapy, is evidence-based and widely used in natural medicine to compliment hands-on traditional physical therapy. Common benefits of water exercise include increased range of motion, reduced pain, improved flexibility and muscle tone, protection of joints during exercise, improved balance, coordination and gait, and stress relief.
Water therapy is physical therapy in a safe aquatic environment under the supervision and direction of a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant. The purpose of aqua therapy as rehabilitation is to transition from water-based exercises to land-based functional activities. It is an excellent intervention for patients who are overweight, recovering from injury, have fractures, want to manage symptoms related to a chronic condition, live with arthritis, fibromyalgia, musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, and/or cardiovascular conditions and diseases. The best part is that the patient does not need to know how to swim to be a candidate for aquatic therapy.
If you are interested in aqua therapy, here are some important questions to ask. Who at the facility does Aqua Physical Therapy? Aqua therapy should be performed by specially trained and licensed health clinicians. Does insurance cover aqua therapy? Most insurances cover hydrotherapy, as it is the same as getting a prescription from a medical provider for physical therapy. During the initial evaluation, your physical therapist will determine whether aqua therapy will help you reach your functional goals. Are there any restrictions with aqua therapy? While aqua therapy is good for most individuals, there are some contraindications, like incontinence and open wounds, to name a couple.
Additional questions to ask include, what is the water temperature? Hydrotherapy is often performed in a pool that is between 92 and 96 degrees. The warmth from the water enables the muscles and joints to relax and improve circulation.
How often is the pool cleaned? Warm water harvests bacteria, so it is important to check water PH and chlorination daily as well as fully drain, disinfect and clean pools monthly to avoid recreational water illnesses, like rashes and infections.
What is the weight limit? Weight limits may vary from place to place, so if you are overweight, check in advance. If I use a wheelchair, what is the method for getting safely into the pool? For individuals with disabilities, some pools contain arcs and hydraulic lifts, to safely harness patients and lower them into the pool without the need for steps. Depending on your comfort, you may want to ask if there is only one patient in the pool at a time and if it is private? Pools can vary from big public pools meant for individual and group settings, to small pools offering privacy.
If you haven’t tried physical therapy in the pool environment, give it a try. Call Barclay Physical Therapy for a complimentary screening to see if it is right for you at 248-853-5853.