The Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic therapy is beneficial for treating people with common conditions such as low back pain, chronic pain and arthritis, but it can also be utilized for treating people post surgery. Aquatic therapy can be used after orthopedic surgeries, but also with patients who are struggling with general weakness after other types of surgeries.

After surgery, most people will have to spend time resting and recovering which reduces their normal activity level. This can lead to a decrease in both strength and endurance. People can also face a range of challenges (depending on the type of surgery), and may have to learn how to walk again, how to balance, and how to perform daily activities. Aquatic therapy can be helpful with the above challenges and with adjusting.

There are many reasons an aquatic environment is beneficial! First, the aquatic environment provides compression from the water to help reduce surgery related swelling as well as exercise related swelling when those exercises are performed in the water. The water also helps to improve circulation which in turn helps with the healing process. Warmer water temperatures can help to relax tight or stiff muscles and joints that may have occurred from not being able to move as well as one may have before surgery. All of the above help to create more normal movements with less pain and a possible faster return to activities.

Aquatic therapy reduces the amount of gravity on a person, allowing them to move more with less pain and pressure on their joints and muscles. This is beneficial especially to those who have had hip, knee, ankle, shoulder and back surgeries. It allows people to be able to start loading an area that may have had surgery in a safe environment and with the support of the water. People may then be able to move in more normal patterns with less compensations at an earlier time in their recovery. This way they can practice the right way to walk or move their arm or leg without compensating.

Another helpful aspect of aquatic therapy is that it helps people regain the strength, endurance and balance that they may have lost in the recovery time after surgery. The resistance from the water can help with increasing strength and endurance while performing exercises in the water. The water also can help improve balance by providing a safe environment where one can focus on their balance and not have to worry about falling. This is especially helpful for those who are struggling on land with their balance and are at a fall risk.

Lastly, aquatic therapy gives a mental boost to people who have endured a lengthy recovery with reduced activity levels. It allows them to get out and do something to further their recovery and provides that in a safe environment. All this while helping a person feel a return to normality.

At Hulst Jepsen Physical Therapy, we offer Aquatic Therapy through both our Hudsonville and Wyoming locations. To schedule a free 15 minute consultation to see if aquatic therapy could be a good fit for you, call 616-827-3010.

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Natale Elenbaas