Written by Serena Geoffrey, Physical Therapist
Long Beach, CA
Water or pool therapy offers the patient many
advantages over exercising on dry land. There are multiple
program and exercises equipment that can be used by the patient
in the pool, which will affect the outcome of a pool therapy
Pool therapy can help to increase:
A patient’s range of motion
A patient’s strength and endurance
A patient’s “body in space” awareness and
A patient’s aerobic training
A patient’s functional activities
Factors influencing the benefits of pool
The buoyancy of the water, which is an upward
force on the body and the opposite of gravity, allows a person
to float, assists with freedom of movement and provides a low
impact environment. In shoulder deep water the body weight is
reduce by 90%, which in turn decreases the stress on the
musculoskeletal system and reduces pain.
The resistance of water is 12 times greater
than air and is created when anything moves against it.
Increasing the speed of movement or adding external resistance
such as foam dumbbells can increase resistance. There are also
pool therapy machines available, which can help with the
exercise program. .
The pressure of the water on the body is equal
over all the surfaces. It can promote increased circulation and
help to reduce swelling.
The heat of the water, which is usually at 89
to 94 degrees, helps to reduce spasticity and allow a muscle to
Because of these factors, during early
rehabilitation, pool therapy can often be started sooner than
traditional dry land activities.
Prior to starting a pool therapy program it is
necessary to have a doctors prescription and to be aware of any
contraindications. Patients must have control of bowels and
bladders in order to avoid any accidents that will contaminate
the pool and cause it to be shut down for extensive cleaning.
Pool therapy should be fun and enjoyable. For
children there are a number of games and activities that can be
done in the water so that the child doesn’t even know they are
working. Older teens and adults may benefit from more structured
programs where they have definite goals and objectives set.
Like with any pool therapy program it is
necessary to have adequate supervision in the pool and on the
deck. A 1 therapist to 2 patient ratio, in the water, is best
with a set of “eyes “ on the deck. There should always be
someone ready to go for help if the occasion arises.
There are also group programs available and
are generally supervised from the deck. These programs may also
have lifeguards on duty.
Please keep in mind, this webpage is for your information only.
Please check with your child's physician for any treatments.
For more information on Juvenile Scleroderma, contact:
Juvenile Scleroderma Network, Inc.
1204 W. 13th Street, San Pedro, CA 90731
Tel: (310)519-9511 (Pacific Time)
Speak to another JSD parent for emotional and logistical support
provided by home-based JSD volunteers. For medical advice, please
contact your child's physician.
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