Aquatic Therapy

What is Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy relies on water’s unique physical properties of buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, surface tension, and viscosity to enhance rehabilitation.

Aquatic therapy helps to unload the spine and joints, assist or resist movement, and increases lung performance.

Working with an experienced therapist in a pool or on an underwater treadmill, you will discover many benefits: greater pain free movement, relaxing muscles, increased strength, and improved endurance.

The purpose of aquatic therapy is to:

  • Improve cardiovascular efficiency
  • Increase strength and power
  • Increase joint range of motion
  • Assist in gait training and functional activities
  • Reduce pain and muscle spasm
  • Increase proprioceptive and kinesthetic awareness

Who Is Aquatic Therapy For?

Patients who may benefit from aquatic therapy include those experiencing:

  • Weight-bearing limitations
  • Mobility issues
  • Balance/coordination impairments
  • Pain
  • Sensory impairments
  • Tone issues
  • Decreased endurance or cardiovascular function
  • Weakness
  • Significant postural abnormalities
  • Difficulty tolerating land therapy

The patient can control and adjust the amount of resistance by varying speed of movement and utilizing water exercise equipment.  Exercises can be performed in an upright position, which is more functional and does not require getting up and down from a floor. 

Patients who begin aquatic physical therapy can readily transition into aquatic classes for a seamless transition into lifetime exercise.

What to Expect?

The first visit will be at the rehab clinic.  It will take a little longer, approximately 45 minutes to an hour.  This provides the therapist time to talk with you and gather information and measurements, as well as discuss an appropriate course of action.

Depending on the location, the aquatic therapy treatments sessions will take place at the rehab clinic if they have an onsite pool or at another local pool.

Exercises are led by a rehabilitation clinician under the guidance of a physical therapist, using various equipment as appropriate.

Exercises Include:

  • General stretching exercises
  • Strengthening activities
  • Dynamic balance training
  • Spinal stabilization
  • Cardiovascular conditioning

The therapist will likely give you a home exercise program to facilitate continued strengthening at home and so that you can continue with the exercises independently after discharge. 

How to Get Started

Typically, you will need to contact your Primary Care Provider to get a referral for physical therapy sent to the OSF location of your choice.  However, certain insurance companies do allow their clients to attend therapy without a referral. 

This is called Direct Access.  Please reach out to your insurance company to determine if you qualify for Direct Access.  Once the order has been received by your chosen therapy location, they will contact you to schedule an appointment for your initial evaluation. 

After the evaluating therapist has performed the assessment, they will work with you to determine your Plan of Care or how many more visits you may require.

What to Bring

Please bring your insurance card and a photo ID.  Fort the initial evaluation, please wear comfortable clothing and shoes.  For the pool sessions, please wear a swimsuit or trunks.

When to Arrive

Arrive about 15 minutes prior to your scheduled visit to complete your registration process.  For children under the age of 18, a parent or guardian must be present for the initial appointment.

What to Expect

The first visit will take a little longer, approximately 45 minutes to an hour. This provides the therapist time to talk with you and gather information and measurements.