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Aquatic Therapy Is Gaining Popularity Worldwide: Know Its Benefits

A patient being treated at AquaCentric.

Aquatic therapy is considered an effective treatment for a wide range of health conditions such as arthritis, low back pain, sports injuries, obesity, stroke, Parkinson's disease, etc. Here's all you need to know about this unique form of physiotherapy.

Aquatic Therapy worked like a miracle for Pooja Patil, an interior designer who completely lost her lower limb functionality after an accident two years ago. Pooja had suffered spinal cord injury after falling from a height of 15 feet while measuring exteriors of a property, which led to a complete loss of her lower limb functionality. She had lost all sensation and muscle control in both her limbs. She was no longer able to move, sit or stand independently.

While researching her condition over the internet, she said she came across aquatic therapy and its unique advantages over traditional physiotherapy. She then started her aquatic therapy sessions at AquaCentric Therapy in Andheri, Mumbai. "On the first day itself, I was made to stand using external support through parallel bars with a frame. The experience was encouraging, as I was standing for the first time on my feet after 5-6 months using external support. My sessions at AquaCentric really boosted my mental strength and powered my determination," Pooja said.

According to Physiotherapists at AquaCentric, the aqua therapy, earlier known as hydrotherapy, helped in training her balance, improving her muscle strength along with improving her gait via underwater treadmill with live camera monitoring. Apart from aquatic therapy, she was also made to exercise using various equipment like advanced recliner cycling, battle ropes, strength training devices and other rehabilitation techniques to help her regain muscle control, balance, stability and strength.

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"The therapy and consistency helped Pooja achieve a great deal of improvement not only physically but also mentally by boosting her self-esteem and will power. From being unable to sit without support at all, she can now sit for long hours and create beautiful interior designs without any external support. From being unable to stand at all, she is now living the reality of walking independently with the help of calipers and a walker," said Dr Firdaus Shaikh, Senior Orthopaedic Physiotherapist, AquaCentric Therapy.

Dr Firdaus tells us all about aquatic therapy. Below is an excerpt from the conversation:

What is Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic physical therapy is a unique and a highly effective form of physiotherapy that is gaining popularity worldwide. It's a technique where rehabilitation exercises are carried out by trained aquatic therapists in a heated warm pool. It is the exercise performed in warm water and it helps in muscle relaxation, reduce pain and improve joints. It is suitable for all age group children and adults, and patient with various disabilities, disorder, health problem can benefit from this therapy. Aquatic therapy proves its efficiency in treating a wide range of health conditions such as, arthritis, low back pain, sports injuries, cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, obesity, stroke, Parkinson's disease etc.

Advantages of Aquatic Therapy over Traditional Physiotherapy

Aquatic therapy includes rehabilitation, prevention, fitness and wellness. It improves flexibility, muscle relaxation and increases peripheral circulation through the use of warm water. This form of physiotherapy also provides resistance for low Impact strength training, improves circulation, balance and coordination.

Most importantly, the apparent weightlessness in water reduces the stresses and impact on the painful joints like the knees, hip, spine by 1/10th as compared to land. The result is a pain free, risk free and a safe exercise experience. Apart from the weightlessness, the warmth of the water also helps to reduce muscle tightness, reduce pain, makes movements much easier and helps in regaining skills that are often lost on land.

For patient struggling with conventional land-based physiotherapy, aquatic therapy is the one stop solution to their rehabilitation needs. It gives relaxation and reduces stress. Increases the range of movement, as well as increases walking and other recreational activities. People who are not able to perform exercise on the land can safely and easily perform in water

Things to keep in mind before opting for Aquatic Therapy

Therapy pools are just chest-level deep, knowing how to swim is not a necessary precondition for opting this treatment method. For wheelchair patients with higher dependency, there is a specialized machine-based lift to safely transfer clients in and out of the pools. However, a therapist must be specially trained to ensure utmost safety and care.

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