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November 4, 2008

Water Therapy

We had a lecture yesterday devoted solely to water therapy. My massage program offered hydrotherapy to the day students, but alas, I was a night student and they did not have time in the program design to include hydrotherapy or reflexology.

But water therapy was not about sitting in a whirlpool or using ice to ease pain, this was about getting into water to help them move. Physical therapy pool aquatics takes advantage of buoyancy to help recent stroke patients walk through water when they cannot even support their body weight on dry land. It's amazing to see the difference in ability and is a wonderful way to cue the body that it remembers how to walk.

One of the therapies that they mentioned was Wastu (short for water shiatsu). I had heard of Watsu before, but never witnessed the technique or heard much about the benefits except that it was wonderfully unique and relaxing. Seeing the technique on video was like watching mermaids.

Another benefit of aquatic therapy is one that I have heard with regard to lymphatic drainage. The pressure that the water exerts on the body encourages fluids to move toward the thorax. The deeper the body part, the more pressure. So it makes sense that if someone is having trouble controlling edema, a problems that shows up commonly in people's ankles, encourage them to get into the pool. Pregnant women can reap the benefits of time in the pool to take pressure off their low back and ease swelling in their extremities.

Water therapy may even improve folks with moderate renal impairment because the way the water pressure encourages renal excretion. There are some precautions, however, such as folks with MS not getting into a heated pool because of heat intolerance. Cardiovascular patients need to be cautious in water with temperatures over 92 degrees, so no hot tubs.

It's amazing to think that something as simple as getting into a pool can be such effective medicine.

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Posted by linda at November 4, 2008 6:28 PM

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