aquatic therapy

Have you ever heard of aquatic therapy? While you may understand it (in some way), uses water, do you realize what it really has to offer?

Individuals who are disabled or injured can reap many benefits offered by this type of physical therapy. It uses water to help improve movement and flexibility.

If you are a doctor or care provider and searching for new and effective ways to help patients with a wide array of conditions, then aquatic therapy may be a viable solution.

Understanding the Specifics of Aquatic Therapy

Before jumping into the benefits of this treatment, it’s important to understand that aquatic therapy isn’t the same thing as aquatic fitness or aquatic exercise. It requires specialized training and education and is a treatment that many insurance providers cover.

In most cases, these services are offered by outpatient rehabilitation centers, senior living centers, sports medicine clinics, and hospitals. The primary goals of this treatment include improving flexibility, balance, and coordination while building endurance and muscle strength. It also helps to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

Conditions Treatable with Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic therapy is a treatment that may be helpful with a wide array of conditions. Some of the most commonly treated include:

  • After joint reconstruction or replacement surgery
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Chronic pain
  • Tendonitis
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Scoliosis
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Depression
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Orthopedic injuries
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Strains and sprains

People of all ages can benefit from this treatment. A trained professional can create a customized program for anyone, regardless of their condition, to help achieve rehabilitating benefits.

Keep in mind if you are providing this treatment for a child, there are specialized products that can help ensure everyone is safe and that the treatment is effective.

Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

Now that you better understand what aquatic therapy is and what conditions it can be used for, getting to know the benefits can be helpful. Keep reading to learn what these are.

Hydrostatic Pressure

Since water is denser than air, it will exert more pressure on your body as you enter. This is due to water constantly adjusting its shape to accommodate the movements you make.

The water will compress your joints, muscles, and skin through a concept referred to as hydrostatic pressure. This forces your lungs and heart to work harder since your chest cavity is under direct pressure.

Also, the water serves as a compression bandage for your entire body. This is how it helps to relieve chronic muscle aches when you are submerged to your neck.

Dulled Sense of Touch

Your nervous system is made up of an acute network consisting of millions of nerve endings in your muscles and skin. These respond to even the slightest stimulus.

When under constant stimulus, like pressure from the water, your nervous system will dull the reticular system. This is the portion of the brain used for dealing with the tactile sensory neurons. The entire chain of events that occurs helps to dull pain in your muscles, making it easier for you to stretch.

One of the biggest obstacles with traditional physical therapy treatment is the pain associated with moving an injured muscle to help restore its function. With water therapy, this pain is dissipated.


One of the main benefits offered by aquatic therapy is the constant resistance the water provides. Aquatic exercises are some of the most energy-intensive workouts in existence today.

These don’t require you to use resistance equipment, at all. When you are forced to exert more energy to perform a motion you are accustomed to, you can effectively tone your atrophied muscles by using more muscle fibers. Also, the presence of the water helps to reduce your pain.

The rebuilding of Muscle Memory

The natural resistance and viscosity of water forces you to move more slowly. When you move at a slower rate, your brain has the ability to process the signals coming from your muscles more efficiently. This is possible due to the amount of time it takes to move, and a huge benefit when it comes to rebuilding muscle memory.

If you are suffering from a neuromuscular condition or some other type of impairment, muscle reeducation is much easier when you are in water.

Improved Circulation

Due to the hydrostatic pressure (mentioned above), your heart is going to be under constant pressure. Additionally, the water that is usually used for aquatic therapy remains warmer than average temperatures. This is because the warmth can help to promote circulation.

When there is increased blood flow to your limbs, it helps promote the healing process. For those who have a weaker heart muscle, this can compensate for their poor circulation and get oxygen-rich blood to reach the periphery of your body.


Water moves in currents when you are moving through it. The gentle movement and flow of the molecules of water around your body act as a natural massage.

This can help to promote circulation as well as the relaxation of your sore or tired muscles.

Could Your Patients Benefit from Aquatic Therapy?

As you can see, there are a wide array of benefits offered by aquatic therapy. When you realize all the good this treatment has to offer, you may be tempted to offer this service to your own patients.

If this is the case, just remember, specialized training is needed. This will help ensure you provide your patients with a safe and effective session when they come in for aquatic therapy.

Getting to know about different treatment options is beneficial for both patients and health care providers. For more helpful and insightful information, be sure to check out some of our other blogs. For example, we offer information on how to make your life with asthma easier.


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