The Benefits of Aquatic Physiotherapy / Hydrotherapy for the Older Person
Aquatic physiotherapy/hydrotherapy is beneficial for older adults because the heated water provides assistance or variable resistance, and allows full range of movement without excessive strain through the joints whilst supporting the weight of the body. There is a lot of research demonstrating psychological benefits and improved cardiovascular function in elderly populations undertaking a course of hydrotherapy. This is in addition to a reduction in falls, and improvement in balance.
If you have been unfortunate and suffered a fall or injury, one of the great advantages of being in the hydrotherapy pool is that the weight relieving effect of buoyancy coupled with the relaxation induced by the heat of the water reduces pain on exercise and activity and creates traction at the joints reducing compressive forces on the joints and cartilage. The heat aids circulation whilst the hydrostatic pressure of the water reduces oedema and swelling.
If you are suffering from falls or losing mobility it is possible to find yourself in a vicious circle of inactivity leading to a loss of postural skills, and a greater fear of falling, which further restricts activity, leading to muscle weakness and increasing the risk of falls. We find that our older population are less anxious about moving and exercising in water whereby if they lose their footing, they are unlikely to injure themselves, and they have longer to react and balance because of the density and buoyant force of water.
The heat of the water aids relaxation and further reduces anxiety.
Research has shown improvements in body sway and quadriceps strength, shoulder strength, increased average walking time, improved reaction times and decreased joint pain as a result of twice weekly hydrotherapy.
Bone densities improved in the femoral necks and spines of elderly people who swam regularly, compared with those who did not.
You don’t have to be able to swim to undertake Hydrotherapy
If you don’t want to get your hair wet, we can use special floats to support you upright or lying down, and we have a pool platform you can sit on, but still keep most of your body under the water.
Aquatic Physiotherapy / Hydrotherapy offers additional benefits for the older person including, but not limited to:
- Pain relief using Watsu®, mobilising, Aquastretch and Aquaepps® techniques, and due to the physiological effects of immersion in heated water inducing muscle relaxation, reducing muscle spasm and releasing endorphins.
- Reducing stiffness and increasing range of movement and flexibility due to the effects of heated immersion, gentle tractioning of joints and buoyancy.
- Increased muscle strength and endurance using modified PNF and the properties of water reducing the strain through vulnerable joints and soft tissues.
- Gait and balance re-education in a reduced weightbearing environment.
- Promotes balance in sitting and standing with reduced risk of falling, as the density of water allows more time to respond and react in different positions.
- Increasing cardiovascular fitness as lower initial working capacity and effort required to exercise in water, and the positive physiological effects on the heart and lungs when immersed upright in heated water.
- Exercise at a gentle or intense pace depending on your requirements.
Increasing functional activities using buoyancy, rotational effects and turbulent drag with specific PNF and Aquaepps® techniques.
- Freedom of movement and ability to exercise all limbs at once in this unencumbered environment.
- Sensory stimulation and increased proprioception (awareness of where joints are in space) due to hydrostatic pressure of water against body and turbulent drag of water moving around body.