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What is Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy utilizes skilled physical therapy interventions in conjunction with therapeutic qualities of the water. 

Therapeutic Qualities of Water


While submerged in water, buoyancy assists in supporting the weight of the patient. This decreases the amount of weight bearing which reduces the stress placed on the joints.When immersed to shoulder level, 80% of the body's effective gravity dissipates due to the buoyancy of the water. In turn, buoyancy reduces compressive forces on the joints, allowing those with chronic pain to move and walk with greater ease and increase their range of motion.

Therapeutic Warmth:

Our pool is maintained between 91.5-92 F. The warmth of the water experience during aquatic therapy assists in relaxing muscles and vasodilates vessels, increasing blood flow to injured areas. Patients who experiencemuscle spasms, chronic back pain, or fibromyalgia find this aspect of aquatic therapy especially therapeutic.

The warm water enhances muscular relaxation, which increases circulation, reduces swelling and promotes healing.

Hydrostatic Pressure:

Aquatic therapy also utilizes hydrostatic pressure* to decrease swelling and improve joint position awareness. As a result, patient proprioception is improved. This is important for patients who have experienced joint sprains, as when ligaments are torn, our sense of balance becomes decreased.


The viscosity of water provides a gentle form of resistance in the intended planes of movement, which cannot be recreated on land. This resistance allows for muscle strengthening coupled with the water’s buoyancy which allows a person to strengthen muscle groups with decreased joint stress. This aspect of aquatic therapy is especially useful for patients seeking weight loss or who are experiencing arthritis, degenerative spine conditions, or healing fractures. By minimizing the effect of gravity and body weight on weight bearing joint stress it is easier and less painful to perform exercises.

What is Aquatic Therapy commonly used for?

  • Utilizes buoyancy to decrease stress on joints and muscles

  • Facilitates analgesia

  • Promotes relaxation

  • Decreases fear of movement and stabilization

  • Promotes independent exercise 

  • Promotes gains in strength and endurance

  • Improves balance, coordination, posture and gait

  • Promotes reduction in swelling/edema via hydrostatic pressure 

  • Promotes the increase of circulation

  • Increases range of motion and flexibility

  • Facilitates improvement in kinesthetic and proprioceptive awareness

Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

  • Post surgical rehabilitation (ACL reconstruction, joint replacement, rotator cuff repair, ORIF, spine fusion/discectomy/laminectomy)

  • Back and pelvic injuries

  • Work related injures that require rapid rehabilitation

  • Lower extremity sprains and fractures with decreased weight bearing status

  • De-conditioning

  • Gait and balance disorders

  • Chronic pain

  • Other conditions: multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, Parkinson's disease, traumatic brain injury


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