Is Pool Physical Therapy Right For Me?
The pain associated with some levels of chronic discomfort or nerve-related pain can make it difficult to participate in physical therapy. A comfortable and productive solution for many patients whose recuperation, conditioning, or rehabilitation is impeded by pain is water-based therapy, or pool physical therapy. The recommended form of pool PT will depend on what a patient hopes to accomplish and the nature of the pain experienced.
How It Works
Water therapy sessions typically take place in a heated pool since the warm water also has therapeutic benefits. The amount of support the water provides will depend on how much water the patient is in for their session. If a patient has neck pain, for instance, the water would support about 90 percent of the weight of the body when immersed up to the neck.
Why It Works
Patients benefit from the natural buoyancy of water. The water also creates an appropriate amount of pressure within a confined space referred to as hydrostatic pressure. It can benefit patients by reducing swelling in areas of the body affected by pain. Circulation is also improved in water, which promotes tissue healing.
Forms of Water-Based Therapy
The Burkendo Method is a form of PT often used for recovery from sports-related injuries. Its focus is on improving balance, stamina, strength, flexibility, and coordination. Patients start by performing exercises in the water and eventually shift to the same exercises on land as muscle strength improves.
Aqua running is a form of pool PT where patients jog or go through running motions in the water. Support is provided by a flotation belt. It can be an effective form of cardiovascular exercise without the added stress of the same movements performed on land.
Preparing for Pool Physical Therapy
Some pool PT sessions involve the use of equipment that will be used underwater, such as specially adapted stationary bicycles. Patients wear comfortable clothing that can get wet without becoming too heavy or a swimsuit. Protective footwear should also be worn unless the therapy is specific to foot pain. Bringing a water bottle to maintain hydrated is also encouraged.
Individuals with respiratory issues, certain medical conditions (like hepatitis A), or an allergy or intolerance to chlorine or other chemicals commonly found in pool water aren’t good candidates for pool physical therapy. For patients likely to benefit from water-based exercises, it’s considered a safe way to improve range-of-motion and flexibility while also protecting bones and joints from excess pressure.