One thing that can confuse people about aquatic physical therapy is an assumption that it's simply no more than swimming exercises. Alternatively, they assume it's a form of hydrotherapy. Technically, that's true, but there's a lot more to aquatic physical therapy. After all, there's a reason it's considered a clinically proven, medically necessary, and billable technique by insurance carriers.
The Differences Between Them
Swimming in general works wonders as an aerobic exercise. As such, it's a worthy exercise for anyone to make a part of their routines. Hydrotherapy is more of a relaxing activity that helps aid the healing process.
Hydrotherapy includes things like hot tubs, hot baths, soaking, water spas, and other water-based relaxation methods. These are all things that can help you relax your muscles and get your blood moving. It can do a lot for temporary pain relief and temporary restoration of range of motion.
By contrast, aquatic physical therapy is an active, controlled, and proctored form of therapy and rehabilitation. Remember that it's still a form of physical therapy with everything that entails. It just so happens that it also makes use of water.
It's altogether possible that your aquatic physical therapy treatment will include hydrotherapy and water exercises. That's mainly because these are things you can do on your own between treatments.
Why You Might Need Aquatic Physical Therapy
As with any form of physical therapy, you may need aquatic therapy for healing and rehabilitation after an accident, injury, or surgery. It's also a method of dealing with other ailments or impairments that are temporary or permanent. There are also some very specific ailments that aquatic therapy is ideal for treating.
- Various sports injuries
- Muscle injuries
- Chronic pain
Treatment with aquatic therapy serves to improve motion, function, balance, and flexibility. What sets this form of therapy apart from other water-based exercises and treatments is that it requires a skilled physical therapist.
The physical therapist will assign the proper exercises and modalities. He or she will help pinpoint the areas that require work and develop a routine that focuses on them.
In some cases, you may still have to go through many non-aquatic physical therapy sessions as well. But the main point is that these are not exercises you should attempt on your own without professional guidance.
Finding Physical Therapists that Practice Aquatic Therapy
If you're prescribed physical therapy, you can ask if aquatic therapy can help you with your recovery. In some cases, a physician can prescribe these services directly. If you're experiencing any pain and would like to do something about it, then you can bring up aquatic therapy directly.
If in doubt, contact a local physical therapy service like Advanced Physical Therapy that practices aquatic therapy techniques. They will know how to help you get the referral you need.