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Aquatic Therapy

Water Works: The Healing Power of Aquatic Therapy

If you think the pool is just for kids in the summer, think again. Aquatic physical therapy is for all ages, all year round, and works for a wide variety of physical problems – from knee pain to spinal cord injuries.

How Does Aquatic Therapy Help?

This type of physical therapy takes place in an aquatic setting, such as a pool, under the supervision of a trained health care professional. Water’s unique properties make the aquatic approach ideal, particularly if you have struggled with traditional physical activities.

  • Warm water (90-93°F) helps relax and increases the flexibility/mobility of joints and muscles, and increases blood flow to injured areas.
  • The natural buoyancy of the body and its tendency to float in water helps decrease the pressure throughout joints and muscles while exercising.
  • Hydrostatic pressure (constant water pressure against your body) helps decrease joint swelling and provides increased feedback to improve movement and body awareness.

Conditions Aquatic Physical Therapy Treats

Aquatic physical therapy is especially helpful if you’ve had an injury or procedure that limits your ability to put full weight on a limb or body part. It’s often prescribed for:

  • Low back, arthritis, knee or hip pain
  • Fibromyalgia or chronic pain
  • Brain or spinal cord injuries
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Balance and gait issues

Our certified aquatic physical therapists can also help identify any impairments such as muscle weakness, tightness or decreased endurance and guide you through exercises to improve your condition.

Frequently Asked Questions about Aquatic Physical Therapy

Some people hesitate to try aquatic physical therapy because they don’t know what to expect. Questions you might be embarrassed to ask:

  1. Do I need to know how to swim? No. Physical therapists can accommodate activities and exercises in a variety of positions and water depths.
  2. What if I don’t like being in a swimsuit? Wear attire that is comfortable for you. Many of our clients wear shirts and shorts over their swimwear.
  3. What if I don’t want to go to a pool when it’s cold outside? Our pools and their surrounding air temperatures are warmer than typical pools, and we have state-of-the art locker rooms that allow you to prepare for any outdoor weather.

If you are interested in aquatic physical therapy, the first step is seeing your provider to get a prescription. You can also visit to learn more. CHI Health Aquatic Therapy has locations throughout the region.

Jade Bertsch, PT, DPT, ATRIC
Jade Bertsch, PT, DPT, ATRIC

Jade Bertsch, PT, DPT, ATRIC is a physical therapist at CHI Health who specializes in aquatic therapy.

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