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What is Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic Therapy is Safe and Effective for All Ages and Fitness Levels
Aquatic therapy — also known as hydrotherapy — is a gentle, natural approach to physical therapy that takes place within a heated pool under the guidance of a trained aquatic therapist. Considered a complement or alternative to land-based therapy, aquatic therapy is ideal for all ages and fitness levels. Since therapy activities take place within the water, they are generally lower impact and provide for a more gentle and relaxed rehabilitation process.

History of Aquatic Therapy
Did you know that humans have enjoyed some version of “aquatic therapy” for thousands of years? Everyone who has ever felt that “ahhhh….” moment when sinking into a bathtub or when entering a pool or body of water understands that there is just something special about being immersed in this life-giving substance. While the first recorded use of aquatic therapy dates back to 2400 B.C., ancient cultures have used hydrotherapy and mineral waters as a way to reduce stress and help heal common injuries.

Aquatic therapy was formally introduced by Dr. Charles Lowman in 1911, where therapeutic tubs were used to treat patients with cerebral palsy. It wasn’t until the invention of the Hubbard Tank that the evolution of aquatic therapy truly began. In 1992, the American Physical Therapy Association recognized aquatic therapy, officially adding requirements and certifications around this relatively new version of therapy.

Goals of Aquatic Therapy
The structured aquatic therapy sessions at Chesapeake Bay provide you with the guidance of a trained professional, walking you through intricate therapy sessions targeted to strengthen muscles, improve flexibility and reduce or eliminate pain. According to a recent study in the Physical Therapy journal, aquatic exercise produced sufficient muscle activation, intensity and exertion that was roughly comparable to land-based exercise — but with only about half of the pain levels being reported by study participants.

There are a variety of goals for aquatic therapy, including:

Balance and coordination
Muscle strengthening
Improved function and mobility
Increased flexibility
Aquatic therapy is beneficial for many individuals due to the limited impact on joints and muscles. The body is more buoyant in water, decreasing joint stress.

Aquatic Therapists are Trained Medical Professionals
True aquatic therapy can only be performed by legally-regulated healthcare professionals who have already completed physical therapy or athletic training certifications. These individuals have trained extensively in the best ways to provide safe and effective therapy in the low-impact environment of an aquatic therapy pool.

Conditions Helped by Aquatic Therapy
Aquatic therapy is effective for a wide range of applications, including:

Spine pain
Musculoskeletal pain
Pre- and postoperative orthopedic rehabilitation
Pressure ulcers
Pediatric disabilities
Neurological disorders
Arthritis
Balance disorders
Depression
Chronic pain
Osteoarthritis
Scoliosis
Sprains and strains
Orthopedic injuries
Cerebral palsy
Parkinson’s disease

Flotation is used to counteract the pressure placed on the body with traditional therapy, creating a positive effect that reduces overall pain levels even when performing activities that might be painful on land. Plus, aquatic therapy has been shown to boost recovery times due to increased blood flow caused by blood displacement upwards into the heart during immersion.

Ready to learn more about how aquatic therapy can help boost your recovery times, reduce pain and improve your flexibility? Contact the professionals at Chesapeake Bay Aquatic & Physical Therapy today.

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