Is Aquatic Therapy Right For You?

Aquatic therapy has been utilized by physical therapists for many decades with the purpose of assisting patients with reaching their goals using the unique properties of the water. Metter Center partners with the YMCA to treat patients with this same purpose in mind. The water allows the therapist to treat a variety of patients who otherwise have a difficult time completing exercises and activities in a traditional physical therapy setting.

You may ask, “Who is the perfect candidate for pool therapy?” And the answer is…you. It is safe to say that patients who deal with limited range of motion or flexibility, weakness, impaired endurance, or postural & gait abnormalities would benefit from aquatic therapy. We are currently seeing a variety of diagnoses. Some common diagnoses we see include: joint replacements (e.g. knee, hip, and shoulder), generalized pain (e.g. patients with fibromyalgia), joint pain (e.g. knee, hip, neck, and back), and generalized deconditioning.

There are several scientific reasons why aquatic therapy is a great way to exercise which relate to the unique properties of water. Learn more about these properties. That being said, there are a few exceptions. There are several contradictions that can hinder your ability to be a candidate for any therapy pool. They include, but are not limited to:

  1. Open wounds, skin infections, bleeding or hemorrhage
  2. Water or airborne infections, (e.g. influenza, gastrointestinal infections, etc.)
  3. Bowel or bladder incontinence
  4. Unstable blood pressure (high or low)
  5. Unstable heart, kidney, or respiratory conditions (e.g. cardiac failure)
  6. Serious dizziness spells
  7. Severe epilepsy

The following are not necessarily contraindications, but rather, things to consider before starting pool therapy:

  • Fear of Water
    Knowing how to swim is not necessary because the water only goes up to five feet in depth and there are several flotation devices available. However, if you are fearful of the water, this could pose a significant challenge for yourself and your therapist. Please communicate any concerns with your therapist prior to starting therapy.
  • Heat Intolerance
    The water temperature can be around 98 degrees Fahrenheit. For most people, this feels very soothing, but patients with certain conditions, like Multiple Sclerosis, may find this temperature to be too warm and will experience fatigue quicker than others. Please discuss all medical conditions with your physical therapist during the initial visit in order to ensure that your accommodations can be promptly met.

Aquatic therapy is an effective way to work on a great deal of physical impairments and functional limitations which might otherwise be too difficult to perform on land. It can be used as a starter program to work on one’s range of motion and strength, before transitioning to land-based therapy.

There are currently two physical therapists from Mettler Center who are responsible for the treatment of patients seeking aquatic therapy. This includes Peggy Hau, PT and Jasmine Evans, PT, DPT. Peggy is an amazing addition to the aquatic therapy team and she continues to show great knowledge and skill when assisting patient with reaching their functional goals. If you are interested in learning more about aquatic therapy or would like to schedule an initial evaluation or consultation, please don’t hesitate to call us at (217) 398-9800. We look forward to meeting you and helping you achieve your personal goals.

Learn more about Aquatic Therapy at Mettler.

Jasmine Evans, PT, DPT is a licensed physical therapist at Mettler Center. Do you have questions regarding Aquatic Therapy? Ask an Expert. A physical therapist can detect functional problems and make the best possible recommendation for treatment. Call (217) 398-9800 to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with a physical therapist or request an appointment online.