Water therapy is a proven modality for rehabilitation, recovery, and exercise. When used in a healthcare setting, this successful tool positively impacts revenue and treatment outcomes. The simplicity of how it works combined with the many conditions it treats makes it a smart choice for your ROI. Here’s why.
The properties of water – buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, density – are highly effective for rehabilitation, training, and conditioning. These properties make water therapy in healthcare an ideal tool to improve function, muscle strength, balance, and range of motion.
According to the North American Journal of Medicine, water therapy can be used to improve immunity and for the management of pain, CHF, MI, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, asthma, PD, AS, RA, OAK, FMS, anorectal disorders, fatigue, anxiety, obesity, hypercholesterolemia, hyperthermia, labor, etc.
A leading hydrotherapy researcher Dr. Bruce Becker reports there are tremendous potential public health benefits to be achieved through hydrotherapy programs targeted at the most costly chronic diseases: hypertension, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and other musculoskeletal pathology, obesity, and deconditioning. His study on Aquatic Therapy: Scientific Foundations and Clinical Rehabilitation Applications concludes: There are unique attributes to aquatic therapy that seem to both preserve and protect health and longevity.
In many cases, weight bearing exercises may not be suitable for individuals with orthopaedic or musculoskeletal limitations, obesity, or other medical conditions. Water therapy in healthcare is particularly effective when clients are unable to exercise on land.
A significant cause of morbidity and mortality is heart failure. However, exercise is considered an established non-pharmacological treatment for patients to manage and control heart failure.
According to one study (Hydrotherapy in Heart Failure: A Case Report), cardiac function actually improves during water immersion due to the increase in early diastolic filling and decrease in heart rate. As a result there are improvements in stroke volume and ejection fraction. In addition, another study reports exercising in water produces an increase in cardiac output, in the blood flow to muscles, and in the diffusion of metabolic waste products from muscle to blood. There is also a reduction in the time it takes to transport oxygen, nutrients, and hormones to fatigued muscles (Versey et al., 2013).
Imagine the fun a small child experiences in a pool with a current. Picture her holding the pool rails. The water sweeps past as she’s in a full stretch with the water flow. She lets go. Giggling, she floats across the pool with the current. As she repeats the process under the guidance of an experienced therapist, she’s having a blast. More importantly, she’s working on her grasp function.
One pediatric aquatic therapy study concludes that hydrotherapy is a novel therapy for children with marked motor impairment because movement in land-based exercises is limited for this population. The study confirms that pediatric aquatic therapy is a safe and effective alternative to land-based therapies, even for children with severe cerebral palsy.
Weight-bearing exercise can aggravate pain. In turn this promotes degeneration in patients that have abnormal joints due to obesity. Because of this, bariatric patients often discontinue exercise altogether. Once they stop exercising, they can damage joints even further. This leads to a downward spiral of immobility and degeneration.
Hydrotherapy reduces joint compression. Therefore, it is more likely that the client can perform exercises that would normally be too taxing if done on land. Pool exercises offer this population the perfect combination of work and comfort that builds confidence to continue treatment.
Healthcare systems from around the world face the same issue: rising costs due to aging adults that are not as healthy as they expected to be. In this population, mobility is particularly important for both postoperative care and overall health and well-being.
Immobile patients experience loss of muscle mass, strength, are more prone to falls, and long hospital stays. In addition, they experience a decline in daily living, social participation, and independence which significantly impacts their quality of life.
As individuals age, falling can send a geriatric patient into a downward spiral. Fearful and cautious, they can become afraid to move. One report reveals that a culture shift needed in all hospitals involves helping patients overcome the fear of falling. Promoting mobility in hospitals might help prevent injurious falls.
According to a study in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society: Of hospitalized older adults, 17% experience functional decline during hospitalization, and 18% have experienced such declines before hospitalization. Data indicates previously ambulatory hospitalized older adults spend 13% of their hospital stay sitting, 4% standing or walking, and 83% in bed, even though fewer than 5% of these individuals have physician orders for bed rest.
Hydrotherapy is an ideal therapy tool for hospitals and healthcare facilities. The benefits of this superior therapy result in a growing network of satisfied clients, positive patient outcomes, and increased revenue. If you’re considering water therapy, here’s how this innovative tool will help you achieve your goals.
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