Not everyone knows how to swim or they may be afraid of the water. Water therapy is performed in a pool that is 4ft in depth. Exercises are done at the side of the pool where the patient can hold onto the wall for support. There are also floatation devices and equipment available for the comfort of the patient. The first session concentrates on the comfort of the patient and educates on the benefits of the water exercises for their specific diagnosis.
Waters buoyancy removes the majority of gravity and patients weight bearing (the amount of weight felt through extremities). With decreased gravity, the joints are allowed to naturally separate allowing for more space. With increased joint space, symptoms of pain are reduced and mobility is increased. With decreased pain, patients are able to perform exercises that were difficult or impossible to perform on land. With increased mobility, patients are able to move through an exercise with almost full range of motion. Water adds resistance which is felt through the whole extremity equally. Water is relaxing to the muscles which also gives patients the ability to complete exercises with decreased pain. Even though you may have Hydrophobia/Aquaphobia you can succeed in an exercise routine in the water in a safe and controlled environment.
A patient came to me not knowing how to swim and little fearful of getting into the water. We worked together for several weeks and after a few sessions she would stay for a while in the pool to help her get use to it and eventually asked for a floatation device (noodle) to use and tried to kick around with it. She did this every time she was in the water. In time she was staying for an extra hour each session and was able to float and swim around with the noodle without fear. She eventually joined our 60/60 program and participated in Water aerobics several times a week. She was pleased with her results from water therapy and it had given her the motivation to stay longer in the water and try new things.
-Jamie Grant., PTA, Aquatic Therapy Director at Dedham Health Physical Therapy
In March 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines urging doctors to consider opioid medication “only if expected benefits for both pain and function are anticipated to outweigh the risks to the patient.” Every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids. Since 1999, more than 165,000 people in the United States have died from opioid pain-medication-related overdoses. “As many as 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids long-term for non-cancer pain in primary care settings struggles with addiction,” the CDC cites.
“Experts agreed that opioids should not be considered routine therapy for chronic pain,” the CDC guidelines state. Instead, prescribers should recommend non-opioid treatments, including physical therapy. Physical Therapy is a safe and effective alternative to opioids for long-term pain management and prevention.
Physical Therapists are trained to improve physical function and treat pain through movement, rather than just masking the sensation of pain. Physical Therapy can offer an alternative to opioids for long-term pain management and can provide services consistent with CDC guidelines. Treatment can decrease and prevent pain, which may be due to muscle and joint tightness leading to impaired movement and poor posture. There are a multitude of ways to treat pain with PT, including, but not limited to: movement, hands-on care, and patient education. By increasing your physical activity you can also reduce your risk of other chronic diseases.
When it comes to your health you have a choice in treatment options….Choose PT!
Reference: APTA and #ChoosePT campaign.
-Stephanie Schwartz, MPT, CSCS, Dedham Health Physical Therapy