A Crash Course on Aquatic Therapy

You’re more likely to have seen a cat or dog training in a swimming pool to lose weight or recover from surgery. However, Aquatic therapy is for humans too, and it exists for all the same purposes. To learn more about aquatic therapy, read on:

What is Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic physical therapy is a kind of rehabilitative exercise completed in water. While exercises may vary depending on the patient and their needs, all forms of aquatic therapy have a few things in common. To begin, they’re old. Aquatic therapy has existed for years and was even used in ancient civilizations like Rome and Egypt. Second, aquatic physical therapy is always done in a temperature-controlled pool, and with a personal physical therapist. Thirdly, all forms of aquatic physical therapy focus on rebuilding muscles and physical ability without any impact factors.

Aquatic Therapy for Rehabilitation

For serious injuries that affect someone’s mobility, aquatic therapy is one of the best ways to begin recovery. However, the scope of what can be treated through aquatic physical therapy affects more than just injuries. Patients struggling with post-surgical, non-surgical, orthopedic, neurological, rheumatologic, and chronic pain can all benefit. Unlike traditional physical therapy, aquatic physical therapy sessions must occur frequently and with a trained professional.


Since most rehabilitative sessions are one-on-one, patients are provided tools and exercises tailored specifically to their personal needs. Group aquatic exercise sessions do exist, but these aren’t often covered by insurance since they are not specialized patient treatments.

What to Expect in a Session

There are many goals patients will try to achieve in each aquatic physical therapy session:

  • Improving flexibility through stretches and specific movements
  • Improving balance and coordination in a safe, controlled environment
  • Building muscle strength and endurance with the help of water resistance
  • Enhancing aerobic endurance
  • Improving gait

To achieve these goals, trainers will have their patients work through a series of exercises tailored to their specific needs. For example, if someone is relearning how to walk, their exercises may start with leg movements that stimulate the joint muscles needed for walking. If a patient has multiple sessions, they will work up to the desired end goal slowly, so some may not even notice any “real improvement”. No matter what, each session builds upon the next towards recovery.

If you or a loved one are looking into aquatic therapy options near you, contact your primary care physician for more information. To browse other physiotherapy items, visit the Medical Supply Depot.

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