6 Aquatic Therapy Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

Mar30th 2016

Sometimes patients come to Southern California Aquatic and Physical Therapy with preconceived ideas about what their treatment will be like.
They’re expectations range from some form of synchronized swimming to carrying boulders underwater Navy SEAL-style.

We thought it would be a good idea to clear up some of the myths and misunderstandings that surround what we do here. (For starters: there is no synchronized swimming or boulder-carrying in our pool.)

6 Aquatic Therapy Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

1) You need to know how to swim to participate in aquatic therapy.

In a word – nope.

Most aquatic therapy pools have a variety of depths that allow patients to stand comfortable in shallow water during treatment. Deep water exercises are available for patients who are able to participate, but each treatment program is designed according to the specific needs and abilities of the patient.

2) Aquatic therapy is only for patients with chronic pain.

6 Aquatic Therapy Myths
6 Aquatic Therapy Myths You Shouldn’t Believe Corona Del Mar Aquatic Therapy Cypress Physical & Aquatic Therapy Brea Aquatic Therapy 7 Surprising Benefits of Aquatic TherapyAquatic physical therapy can help patients with chronic pain, but the benefits can apply to a host of other conditions and issues, including:

  • Recovery from injury/surgery
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Spine surgery
  • Peripheral nerve injuries
  • Joint conditions, including total joint replacements

Aquatic therapy is also useful for improving strength, resistance, balance, posture, walking gait, as well as flexibility and range of motion treatments.

3) Aquatic therapy is dangerous for patients with cardiopulmonary issues.

According to Aquatic Therapy University founder Andrea Salzman, this myth came about in the 1970s and 80s, when researchers were examining the effects of swimming on cardiopulmonary patients. The researchers found that swimming, even at a slow pace, could bring about cardiovascular and hormonal stress.

What the researchers didn’t mention is that swimming and “vertical aquatic exercise,” or aquatic therapy, are very different, and produce different results. Recent evidence shows that, with a few exceptions, aquatic therapy is safe for most cardiac patients. While individuals with these issues should consult with their doctors before beginning a new physical therapy regimen, aquatic therapy is a safe form of treatment that can help with recovery.

4) Pool water is bad for the skin.

Long-term exposure to chlorinated water can have adverse effects on the skin – chlorine is added to pools to kill bacteria, which includes the “good” bacteria that keeps skin healthy.

These effects are reduced, however, by using a saltwater-based sanitization system to keep the pool clean. Saltwater pools can actually benefit the healing process, as saltwater rejuvenates injured or surgically-repaired sites on the body. Exposure to saltwater during an aquatic therapy program is unlikely to harm a patient’s skin – in fact, the opposite is more likely.

5) Pool water is cold and uncomfortable.

Aquatic therapy is not meant to be a “polar bear plunge.” Treatment is most effective in a heated pool, which stimulates the body and improves blood flow.

At Southern California Aquatic and Physical Therapy, our pool stays at a constant 92 degrees for our patients. This optimal healing temperature keeps our patients comfortable and makes treatment more pleasant, in addition to the physical benefits mentioned above.

6) Patients have to choose between aquatic therapy and physical therapy.

Aquatic therapy does not exist in a vacuum. Physical therapists often use aquatic therapy as a “bridge to wellness” for patients who are ready to begin physical therapy but cannot perform “land-based” exercises in their current condition.

Aquatic therapy provides benefits that some patients cannot attain on land, but aquatic therapy and physical therapy are both designed to do the same thing: help patients who want to rehabilitate, recover and restore full-body wellness.

6 Aquatic Therapy Myths You Shouldn’t Believe | Southern California Aquatic and Physical Therapy

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