Addressing pain with aquatic therapy

In addition to our traditional land-based programs, Parkview TherapyONE is excited to begin offering aquatic therapy at the new Jackson R. Lehman Family YMCA. Julie Howell, PTA, Parkview TherapyONE, Lehman YMCA location, tells us the specifics of the exciting new approach.

What is aquatic physical therapy? 
Aquatic physical therapy is a one-on-one physical therapy treatment where exercises are performed in a pool. The approach uses the properties of water, such as buoyancy and warmth, to help patients increase strength, flexibility, and range of motion and decrease pain to overcome barriers that prevent them from being as active as they would like to be.

Who can benefit from aquatic therapy? 
Aquatic physical therapy is very helpful in the treatment of back, hip, or knee pain in addition to other diagnoses that may not have responded well to land-based programs. Patients who experience pain due to arthritis or fibromyalgia can benefit from the warmth and buoyancy of a more comfortable exercise environment.  The buoyancy of the water makes aquatic physical therapy a good choice for patients with weight-bearing restrictions as well.

Is aquatic physical therapy best paired with land-based therapy or on its own? 
It depends on the needs of the individual. One of our goals is to set up an individualized exercise program that they can perform on their own when they are done with physical therapy. Therefore, it is important for us to find out from our patients what type of access they will have to home equipment, gym equipment, and/or a pool to develop an exercise program that will address their specific health needs but be sustainable based on their resources. Those resources can range from simple resistance bands to a pool. We try to keep their preferences in mind, too.

Is aquatic therapy covered by health insurance? 
Most health insurance plans that cover physical therapy will cover aquatic physical therapy.

Do you need a referral for aquatic therapy?
In the state of Indiana, patients of most health insurance providers can self-refer to physical therapy and be seen for two weeks before obtaining a doctor's order.  Patients can initiate aquatic physical therapy in this same manner. 

How does the water temperature (86° F) benefit the patient?
The warm temperature benefits the patient by promoting muscle relaxation, increasing joint range of motion, and increasing flexibility of the muscles.

How does aquatic physical therapy differ from aquatic exercise programs? 
Aquatic physical therapy at Parkview TherapyONE is one-on-one with a certified aquatic therapist and is custom tailored to the specific needs of each individual. Aquatic exercise programs are group programs with a "one-size-fits-all approach".

What should patients expect? 
The first session is done on land and is used to educate the patient and obtain baseline information before entering the pool on the second visit. The pool temperature is 86 degrees F.  There is a ramp to enter the warm water.  If a patient has difficulty walking, there are water wheelchairs available to assist in entering and exiting the pool. The pool has a bench, which is perfect for a variety of seated exercises. The Parkview TherapyONE aquatic staff has various equipment, including buoyant floats and weights, to assist our patients in working the correct muscle groups and challenging balance to help them meet their goals.  With your comfort in mind, traditional bathing suits are not required.  Patients may wear shorts and a t-shirt into the pool.

Aquatic physical therapy is now available at Parkview TherapyONE at the newly opened Lehman YMCA location. For more information or to schedule an assessment, call (260) 266-7400.



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