Aquatic Therapy

Attempting physical therapy when you have a severely damaged joint can be difficult. The resistance of each movement can add unnecessary stress to the damaged area and may actually be too much for the level of treatment you can tolerate.

Aquatic therapy is a great alternative to physical therapy, with similar movements and exercises performed in the water instead of on land. Our White Spruce location offers aquatic therapy to help patients who may benefit from the buoyancy of water, especially those with severely damaged or painful joints. 

In this page, we will walk through exactly what aquatic therapy is, the benefits, and who should and should not seek this type of treatment. If you have any questions, please reach out to our White Spruce location and schedule a consultation with one of our licensed physical therapists.

What Is Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy is a series of physical therapy exercises that are performed in a pool. The reason why aquatic therapy is so appealing and recommended to certain patients is that the buoyancy of the pool helps alleviate pressure on the joints, which allows you to target muscle strength without added stress on the damaged joint. 

Aquatic therapy is performed at a physical therapy clinic and is often part of a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes active/passive stretches, joint mobilization, and other modalities that can help treat orthopedic conditions. Fortunately, physical therapy is a direct access treatment option. This essentially means that you don’t need a referral from a doctor’s office before scheduling with a local PT clinic.

What Are the Benefits of Aquatic Therapy?

The benefits of aquatic therapy are numerous, but the main benefits of this type of treatment plan include:

  • Buoyancy — Like we’ve mentioned, the main benefit to aquatic therapy is the buoyancy aspect. The water helps to lift the weight of the body off the joints, so patients can perform more exercises in the pool than they can on land, especially patients with bad knees or arthritic joints. 
  • Resistance — Water provides resistance during movement. This resistance allows certain exercises to be performed without weights, which allows for muscle strength to be built without the strain of holding weights. This is particularly helpful for people with arthritis in their hands and wrists, because holding weights may add unnecessary strain to these joints. 
  • Hydrostatic pressure — Hydrostatic pressure is basically pressure in the water that is perpendicular to the body, i.e., it pushes against the body. This helps reduce swelling and also improves posture and alignment, which helps increase strength during exercises. 
  • Increased circulation — Aquatic therapy pools are often kept on the warmer side, which helps to increase blood flow to the damaged part of the body and promote healing. 

When coupled with other physical therapy modalities, aquatic therapy has been shown to help patients meet their overall healing and recovery goals. 

Who Should and Shouldn’t Seek Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic therapy is helpful to people who have severe joint conditions that make exercising and movement on land difficult. Such conditions include:

  • Knee injuries
  • Ankle conditions
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Arthritis
  • Lumbar disc disease (bulging or herniated disc, degenerative disc, etc.)
  • Hip pain
  • Fibromyalgia

But aquatic therapy is not for everyone. You should not seek aquatic therapy treatment if you:

  • Have a heart condition
  • Experience bowel/bladder leaks
  • Cannot swim
  • Have a fever, infection or open wound

If you want to learn more about our aquatic therapy treatment, contact our team today. Our team at Lattimore Physical Therapy is here to help you achieve your recovery goals, whether on land or in the pool.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is a health care profession that involves evaluating, diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal system. The goal of physical therapy is to focus on movement in order to restore function, minimize pain and improve an individual’s quality of life. Physical therapists often utilize treatment modalities such as therapeutic exercise, soft tissue mobilization, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and other treatments to help achieve these goals.  

Do I Need a Referral?

The state of New York has “direct access” to physical therapy, which means that patients are not legally required to have a physician’s referral to see a physical therapist. However, some insurances may require patients to have a referral or authorization before they will approve payment. Be sure to contact your insurance company beforehand and determine the process that they require.

It’s important to know that if you are under the care of a physician and require physical therapy treatment, you have the freedom to choose your own physical therapy clinic.

Do You Accept My Insurance?

We accept most major insurance coverages. Some of those we accept include Tricare, Medicare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna and workers’ compensation. If you don’t see your insurance company listed above, reach out to us and we’ll let you know if we accept yours. At the time of scheduling your first appointment, we request that you provide us your insurance information so that we may verify your benefits and coverage.  

How Can I Pay for Treatment?

We accept payment via cash, check, flex spending card, and debit or credit card (Visa, Mastercard and Discover). Payment is expected at the time of treatment and typically required during check-in. If you have insurance coverage, there may be a deductible or copay required. 

Before your first visit, we will contact your insurance company to verify your benefits for physical therapy. Some insurance providers have restrictions on specific treatments. As a courtesy, Lattimore Physical Therapy files with your primary insurance as well as any secondary coverage. You will be billed for any cost share (if applicable) after your insurance has paid their portion. 

What Should I Expect During My First Visit?

During your initial visit, your physical therapist will provide you with a thorough 45-minute to one-hour evaluation in a private room. Please be prepared to discuss your needs, your pain, and any lack of mobility or function that you currently have. This evaluation will involve certain range-of-motion, postural and strength tests to help your physical therapist develop a plan unique to you and your condition.Treatment for your injury will begin on the day of your initial visit.  

How Should I Dress?

You should wear loose-fitting clothing during each session with us. Loose-fitting clothing helps us access and move the areas of the body that are being treated. If you have a knee problem, it is best to wear shorts. For a shoulder problem, a tank top is a good choice. For low back problems, a loose-fitting shirt and pants are the best go-tos.

Do I Need to Bring Any MRIs or X-rays That I Have?

Please bring any relevant MRI or X-ray interpretation reports from your physician’s office. However, since X-rays and MRIs aren’t always the most telling, your physical therapist will want to also take into account your medical history and other physical tests and measures. Their goal is to perform an evaluation as best they can using a thorough series of processes.

How Many Visits Will I Need?

The number of visits necessary to complete treatment varies from patient to patient. Some patients only undergo a couple of sessions, while others need several months of care. It most often depends on your diagnosis, the severity of your impairment(s), your past medical history and other similar factors. You will also be reevaluated on a monthly basis. Each time you visit your doctor, we will provide you with a progress report with our professional recommendations.

Can I Bring My Child With Me to My Appointments?

Yes! Our policy allows for children to accompany their parents during appointments.