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Aquatic Therapy—An Overview

The Different Types of Aquatic Therapy | The Conditions That Can Be Treated with Aquatic Therapy | The Types of Equipment Used in Aquatic Therapy

You’ve had an injury and you’ve lost some mobility, flexibility and muscle strength, Or perhaps you have been in a lot of pain due to a chronic condition. You know that you need physical therapy to rehabilitate your injuries and get your life back, but because of the pain, you worry that exercise will only make the pain worse. As a result, you move less. That starts a vicious cycle, where the less you move, the weaker and stiffer you become, so you move even less and get even weaker and stiffer.

Why not consider aquatic therapy? Water is an ideal medium for exercise when you have weakness, balance issues, or painful conditions. It’s a gentle alternative with the potential for less impact on your body. Utilizing the buoyancy and resistance of the water, you can rebuild muscle strength, improve mobility and range of motion, and reestablish balance and walking patterns.

You may never have heard of aquatic therapy, though. Are there different kinds of aquatic therapy? What types of physical issues can be effectively treated with aquatic therapy? What types of equipment do you typically use when rehabilitating an injury through aquatic therapy?

What Are the Different Types of Aquatic Therapy Available?

The broad umbrella of aquatic therapy can include hydromassage, where the use of pressurized jets of water are used to break down tension in your muscles, which can alleviate pain and discomfort. Aquatic therapy can also include mineral baths or hot springs that reduce pain and soreness.

The aquatic therapy provided at Sutton Place addresses the unique needs of each individual and focuses on a wide range of exercises performed in water, exercises that gently help rehabilitate your muscles, improve your flexibility and range of motion, and improve your balance. Your program will typically include warm-up and cool-down exercises, strength and flexibility training, balance and stability activities, core training and exercises to promote physical endurance.

What Types of Conditions Can Be Effectively Treated by Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy can be highly effective for treating a broad range of physical conditions, including:

  • Traumatic injuries, such as fractures, torn muscles, sprains, brain or spinal cord injury, neck or back trauma
  • Overuse injuries, including tendinitis, bursitis, muscle strains
  • Chronic conditions, from fibromyalgia and sciatica to multiple sclerosis, spondylitis and arthritis
  • Post-surgical conditions, such as pain, stiffness, loss of range of motion or balance issues
  • Gait and posture problems
  • Cardiac and circulatory problems
  • General muscle weakness and deconditioning

What Types of Equipment Are Commonly Used in Aquatic Therapy?

Therapists may employ a wide range of tools to help you rehabilitate through aquatic therapy, such as:

  • Floatation devices, including rings, noodles, water wings or vests
  • Weights, dumbbells or barbells to increase resistance
  • Resistance bands or tubing
  • Flippers or fins
  • Portable stairs or steps
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