Advertisement

Some people can gain body function at the pool

July 18, 2005|by Dr. Mark Yacyk

Most people do not consider going to the pool a form of physical therapy for people limited by joint or muscle pain and immobility. But pool or aquatic rehabilitation might be the only way for some people to regain function. The pool is not only a place to swim, splash and have fun; it also is a place that can relieve your aches and pains.

Water is a reduced-weight-bearing environment in which to walk and exercise, helping to decrease joint and muscle pain. Exercising in the water puts less pressure on joints than exercise on land, making aquatics ideal for those suffering from arthritis. If the water is heated to at least 90 degrees, tight muscles can relax, and joint pain likely will be reduced. By standing in waist deep water, you are only putting 50 percent of your actual body weight through your legs, meaning less stress on the spine, hips, and knees. This can allow for exercise to be more efficient.

Advertisement

Exercising in the water is also an excellent way to improve flexibility and strength. Many people can benefit from pool exercise. In addition to arthritis, some other medical problems respond well to water exercise, including low back pain, firbromyalgia, osteoporosis, muscle weakness and instability while walking.

Aquatic rehab is not appropriate for everyone, particularly if you have a fear of water, or suffer from breathing difficulties such as emphysema or asthma. People with multiple sclerosis should avoid water that is too warm.

Not all rehabilitation facilities are equipped with a therapeutic pool. If your doctor recommends aquatic therapy, make sure the therapist is a certified aquatic instructor. Many facilities will allow former patients to continue with pool therapy independently for maintenance, which should be performed at least three times per week. Another option is to use the pool once or twice per week and supplement the maintenance program with land-based exercise.

Many pools offer group classes in addition to one-on-one instruction. Keep in mind you do not have to be an accomplished swimmer to benefit from water therapy.

If you think aquatic therapy is right for you, or if you would like to find out more about heated indoor pool therapy at Total Rehab Care at Robinwood, please see your doctor for proper evaluation and a referral.




Dr. Mark Yacyk is a physiatrist with Washington County Health Systems.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|