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Aquatic therapy at Via Christi Rehabilitation Hospital

Aquatic therapy is not a modality like hydrotherapy or the traditional whirlpool treatments. It is a procedure conducted in the company of professional staff requiring specific skills and training to implement aquatic techniques. Aquatic therapy utilizes the properties of the water effectively in an exercise program that requires action or interaction by the patient. 

Our aquatic therapy program offers comprehensive evaluation and treatment by professional staff that has completed aquatic training. Patients ranging from infants to elderly are evaluated on land in the clinic to establish baseline functional information and to determine the appropriateness of aquatic intervention if aquatic therapy is recommended. An additional therapy specific physician referral is required. Aquatic therapy is usually of short duration and water goals are developed to correlate with land based functional goals. Professional staff is in the pool with the patient during each session and will instruct and assist the patient with a planned exercise program designed specifically for the patient. 

Aquatic therapy is available to patients as an alternative therapy program. Painful or limited motion on land can be performed with less pain and increased ease of movement when a patient is in the water. The warmth of the water can relax muscles and decrease pain. The buoyancy of the water can support the body and extremities allowing ease of motion. Aquatic Therapy is usually of short duration allowing the patient to progress to an aquatic program at a pool of their choosing or progressively return to land based exercises.

The therapist assesses specific criteria to determine whether an aquatic exercise program is appropriate for the patient. Both land and water therapy goals are established by the therapist. The goals will focus on improving the patient's function and returning them to normal daily activities. The therapist is in the pool with the patient instructing and assisting with the exercise program. 

Both facilities, east and west side, are equipped with steps into the pool, a handrail, and chair lift. Showers are available and towels are provided, however the patient may bring their own towel. Lockers are available to secure belongings. A variety of aquatic equipment may be used during treatment sessions.

Who can benefit from Aquatic Therapy?

 Anyone diagnosed with:

  • Arthritis
  • Low back, shoulder or knee pain
  • Sports injuries
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Post-operative orthopedics

Children diagnosed with:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Myelomeningocele
  • Arthrogryposis
  • Low muscle tone
  • Muscle weakness

When is Aquatic Therapy indicated?

When land therapy is restricted to:

  • Pain and/or poor joint integrity
  • Post surgery
  • Partial weight bearing

When pain is restricting:

  • Range of motion and/or strength
  • Muscle re-education and/or postural alignment
  • Gait training and/or conditioning

When weight bearing status restricts:

  • Standing or gait training
  • Trace to poor muscle strength

When muscle tone is restrictive for:

  • Range of motion
  • Muscle re-education
  • Posture and gait training
  • Mobility and transfers
  • Balance/coordination
  • Pain free tolerance to movement
  • Hyper/hypo tonus is better addressed in the gravity eliminated aquatic environment

What do I wear and bring?

  • Patients may wear a swimsuit, a swimsuit with a plain white T-shirt over it, or a light colored T-shirt and a pair of shorts, and underwear.
  • No cut-offs, colored or printed T-shirts allowed.
  • Aqua socks and swim caps are optional.
  • It is recommended that you bring soap, shampoo, and moisturizer.
  • Jewelry should be removed before entering the pool.
  • Jewelry worn into the pool will be done at the patient's own risk.
  • Band-Aids should be removed prior to entering the pool.

Safety tips

  • All patients MUST shower from the neck down before and after entering the pool.
  • Moisturizer should be applied after each therapy session.
  • No gum, food, drinks or glass allowed in the pool area. Plastic bottles of water are allowed.
  • No diving, running or horseplay.
  • Patients with fever, open wounds, tracheostomy or gastrostomy tubes, contagious skin rashes, and urinary or respiratory infections are not appropriate for aquatic therapy.
  • Internal protection must be worn during menstruation.
  • No visitors or family members are allowed on the pool deck.