Aquatic Therapy Improves Senior Function

Published: November 12, 2018

There is no disputing that water plays a vital role in our everyday lives.  Up to 60 percent of the human body is comprised of water with humans having the need to consume a certain amount in order to survive.  But did you know when pain or injury arises, water can have a drastic impact on the ease and speed of recovery for seniors?

Aquatic physical therapy is the use of water in physical therapy for treatment, rehabilitation, prevention, health, wellness and fitness.  There are many benefits of aquatic therapy including improved pain, joint motion, strength, circulation, swelling, muscle relaxation, balance and functional abilities.  The difference water can make depends on the physical properties of water. These are buoyancy, viscosity, hydrostatic pressure and temperature.

The buoyancy of water offsets the effects of gravity on the joints by reducing body weight, thus reducing pain and pressure on joints.  Walking and weight-bearing exercises that cause pain on land can usually be performed in water pain-free.  Also, less muscle activation is required to support the body in the water than on land due to buoyancy. 

The viscosity or thickness of the water provides resistance in every direction as water surrounds the body.  This makes being in the water the best place to work on balance.  A fall occurs more slowly in the water due to water resistance, giving more time to react to and overcome loss of balance.  People feel more supported in the water and are likely to challenge their balance more as they are less fearful of falling when supported by water.  Also, less support is required to walk in the water.  For example, if one uses a cane on land, they may be able to walk without any assistance in water.

Hydrostatic pressure is exerted from the water onto the body causing compression of soft tissues and helping to decrease pain and swelling.  Warm water allows muscles to unwind and decreases sensitivity to pain.

The benefits of aquatic physical therapy are countless.  Many clients are at a lower fall risk, have improved walking speeds and improved functional abilities within just a few sessions.  The water provides a warm, relaxing environment where exercise can be enjoyed and performed pain-free.  Most importantly it is fun and engaging for all!

Dip your toes into aquatic therapy to see the advantages for yourself. Therapy staff members at Passavant Community are available on an outpatient basis by calling 724-452-3492.  For home health services please dial 877-862-6659.  A doctor’s order is required for aquatic physical therapy with most therapies being covered by insurances.

Scroll To TopBack to top