The fundamental properties of water help support, resist and assist movement. This makes it a safe way to exercise, rehabilitate, and condition. Hasbro Children’s Hospital uses a SwimEx 1000T to enhance therapy and help patients perform tasks which they couldn’t perform on land. Patients can successfully work on cardio, neuroskeletal and neuromuscular issues, along with injuries and other conditions early in the rehabilitation process.
Aquatic Physical Therapy: Basic Advantages
Pain leads a patient to seek physical therapy. Yet, it is often the exact thing that interferes with successful treatment. Water therapy helps eliminate pain, making a patient more willing and motivated to participate. This leads to successful results.
The basic properties of water create mechanical advantages based on simple physics.
Hydrostatic pressure: The weight of a fluid – in this case water – against an object. When a client gets in water, hydrostatic pressure creates a uniform support system for all immersed body parts. The deeper a client goes, the greater the support. Benefits of this support include reduced swelling, improved circulation, diminished soreness due to lactic acid reduction, and less joint stress and cardiovascular strain.
Buoyancy: The ability or tendency to float in water. Based on the principles of buoyancy, a patient immersed in water up to their neck bears 10% of body weight on their legs. If the water is chest high, they are bearing 25% on their legs, and if the water is at their hips or pelvis, the weight is at 50%. Their body literally feels lighter, providing relief to leg pain and discomfort.
Viscosity: A fluid’s resistance to flow. The level of resistance is based on the thickness of the fluid (in this case, water), and the speed and surface area of the moving object in the water. The larger the object, the greater the resistance or drag. Moving with water flow creates assistance, moving against it creates resistance.
Successful hydrotherapy can lead to faster recovery times for patients.