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Physics of Aquatic Therapy: Which Effects Play a Role?

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Aquatic therapy goes back hundreds, if not thousands of years in human history. Water has been used historically to relax the muscles and ease the pain of our hard-working bodies, alleviating painful joints, backache and sore muscles.

Throughout the years, we know that aquatic therapy has more beneficial effects than relaxing muscles and easing pains. Aquatic Therapy can be beneficial for a variety of individuals with musculoskeletal and neurologic disorders such as arthritis, Parkinson’s, CP and many more

The biggest benefits of therapy in water is the body weight reduction through the buoyancy of the water, this helps increase joint flexibility, the increase of muscle strength, decrease of pain and improves balance.

Important Physical Effects in Aquatic Therapy

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The most important physical effects playing a role in aquatic therapy are: buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, hydraulic resistance and thermal energy transfer.

Buoyancy

If the density of the object is lower than the density of water, it will float. If it is higher, it will sink. The human body tends to float. When a person is submerged in water, the amount of weight that is carried by the legs and the spine is reduced tremendously.

Hydostatic Pressure

Water exerts pressure on any object that is submerged. When a human body is submerged in pressure, this hydrostatic pressure forces the blood to the central part of the body. As the heart senses that there is more blood available and therefore it can operate more efficiently, the heart rate slows down.

Hydraulic Resistance

The amount of resistance experienced by moving objects in water is about a thousand times higher than in air. This resistance increases exponentially with speed and therefore, moving an object in water requires much more energy than in air.

Thermal Energy Transfer

Water is much more efficient than air in transferring thermal energy. In water, the human body cools down much quicker than in air, and therefore it is impossible to become overheated in an aquatic therapy pool.

Because of the physical effects used in aquatic therapy, water offers a safe and low-impact exercise environment.

How These Effects Facilitate Physical Therapy

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In aquatic therapy, several beneficial physical effects contribute to its efficacy. These include:

 

  • Reduced weight bearing: The buoyancy of the water reduces the weight bearing on joints, which can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Increased range of motion: The resistance of the water can help to improve flexibility and range of motion, making it easier to perform exercises and movements.
  • Improved cardiovascular fitness: Aquatic exercise can help to improve cardiovascular fitness, as the water provides resistance that can make the heart and lungs work harder.
  • Increased muscle strength and endurance: Aquatic exercise can also help to improve muscle strength and endurance, as the water provides resistance that can make the muscles work harder.
  • Improved balance and coordination: The water’s resistance can also help to improve balance and coordination by providing a challenging environment for movement.
  • Reduced stress on the body: Warm water and buoyancy can reduce stress on the body, which can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Improved circulation: The warm water can help to improve circulation by dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the muscles and joints.
  • Increased proprioception: The water provides a challenging environment for movement which can help to improve proprioception, the ability to sense the position and movement of the body in space.

Translating Scientific Results into Product Improvements

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EWAC Medical believes in creating products that assist to offer state of the art aquatic therapy for patients using their pools. They invest the time in studying new scientific reports and attempting to translate the results into product improvements and developments of new products. They aim to create the optimal environment for patients to feel safe and recover in a fun and relaxing manner.

They also believe in spreading the word about this wonderful way of rehabilitation. In their opinion, aquatic therapy is still in its infancy stage and has a huge potential to grow to become an increasingly accepted modus of rehabilitation.

To learn more about aquatic therapy and the related solutions we offer from EWAC Medical, visit our page at bmec.asia/ewac-medical.

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