Hydrotherapy Physiotherapy

Article Contributed by Nina Wells

Hydrotherapy is the use of (typically warm) water for rehabilitation purposes.  Physiotherapy involves a series of exercises which are used to help a patient recover strength, movement, flexibility, and function.  When combined (also sometimes referred to as aquatic therapy or aquatic physiotherapy) the benefits of both cannot be overstated and often contribute not just to the physical health of the patient in the joint or muscle identified as being injured, but to the well being of the patient as a whole.  Many patients find that the specifically designed exercises performed in the warm water of the pool bring about better mobility with a sense of relaxation.

Medical professionals have noticed that therapy while being submerged in water has a large impact on the speed of recovery for patients.  Typically, the appearance of water alone has an effect on the way a patient feels; there’s an immediate association with feelings of calm and peace.  The water provides buoyancy that takes any extra strain off of our joints and muscles and can support the weight of a human body and provide resistance.  Decreased gravity means that muscles and joints can move with better fluidity and patients don’t require any weights to get a great workout.  Movements are slower due to the pressure exerted by the water around them, reducing the probability that a patient will develop further injury by lifting too heavy a weight, moving too quickly for their body, or not doing an exercise properly.  A patient has more time to consider the full range of the entire movement as its being performed, and the physiotherapist can more easily identify when positioning needs to be altered.   If a patient doesn’t feel they are getting enough resistance training, it’s easy to increase this factor by using a flotation device and move it broadside against the water.   Balance is another factor that is improved by being submerged in the water.  Because the water pressure is affecting all sides of the body, increasing balance in water first allows a patient to gain muscle memory and the strength to carry out several different balancing positions before attempting to do them on land.  This same idea can also help with flexibility and poses designed to stretch the body.

Hydro-static pressure is defined as fluid pressure exerted equally on the entire surface area of a submerged body at a specific depth.  This law, when applied to hydrotherapy physiotherapy, measures the pressure at which blood is able to return to the heart.  Under water, the heart is able to circulate blood more easily from the limbs, reducing any existing swelling especially in reference to feet, ankles and legs.  This helps the patient to enjoy an increased range of motion and helps reduce joint pain.

We know that if something is denser than water it will sink.  Swelling in the limbs of a patient will actually float better and help the patient to move them with less effort.  The water helps to support injured, swollen areas and allows the patient to move them more easily in an aquatic environment than on land.

Due to all of the benefits and quick rehabilitation that aquatic therapy can provide, many athletes have been able to return to their pre-injured form and routines far faster than with other types of therapy.  Many use hydrotherapy physiotherapy as a way to continue to work their bodies and limbs, helping to prevent further injury down the road and maintaining optimal health. 

It’s not only our bodies but also our minds that are affected by aquatic therapy.  Once a patient realizes that being in the water provides an environment of less stress to their limbs and gives them a better range of movement with less pain, they’ll be more apt to continue with treatment.  Knowing that the physical feeling of being submerged is a supportive one, patients are less likely to fear the tenderness of their injured areas.  This can bring about a sense of confidence and inspire the patient to keep working towards better health and well being.  Hydrotherapy physiotherapy can help not only with injuries but also with conditions such as Multiple sclerosis, Cerebral palsy, post operative rehabilitation, and Parkinson’s disease.  It’s also a great way to begin a weight loss program for patients suffering from obesity.

When combined with a healthy diet, good sleeping habits and consistent appointments, hydrotherapy physiotherapy can be a highly effective part of an overall health routine.

This article was written by Nina Wells from Clearwells. Nina has been writing articles for over 10 years and is a commanding voice in the health and fitness community with her articles high in demand.

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