Expanding Options For Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation
Different Rehabilitation Needs
Some patients are entering therapy because of injuries sustained on the job whether caused by an accident, sustained from long-term stress and strain, or from some occupational hazard. Others have lost some or all of their speech functions and suffer from a loss of oral motor skills and control, effectively hampering their ability to communicate. Losses in vision create a particularly difficult set of challenges in order to utilize their remaining visibility. Still, others seek rehabilitation from sports injuries or from extensive wear and tear due to a long career in sports. Many people also suffer from a loss in bodily function from the normal course of aging and stress on the body or as a result of a stroke or arthritis.
No matter the source of an injury, the ultimate goal is always the same, to restore as much normal function as possible to aid patients in maximizing their quality of life and freedom of movement.
Physical Therapy Goals
Depending on the severity and cause of an injury, physical therapy regimens will seek to target specific goals in restoring the quality of life. Occupation therapy, for example, is focused on restoring the ability for people to return to the workforce and to make a meaningful contribution. The goals of this type of therapy typically center on such issues as the ability to read or write, prepare meals, use a computer, perform financial management, engage in hobby work, and for a general improvement in mobility. Restoring patient independence by giving them occupational options is the desired result.
Other goals seek to reestablish speech and swallowing functions, utilizing diminished vision, and improve muscle and bone health.
Aquatic Rehabilitation For Musculoskeletal Treatment
The most common example of physical therapy is a program designed to strengthen muscles, repair joints, support bone strength, and treat neuromuscular conditions. In many cases, patients are unable to undergo typical weight-bearing regimens that are often used to restore strength, flexibility, and coordination. In these cases, aquatic physical therapy provides a new avenue for rehabilitation.
Aquatic physical therapy is performed in a warm pool to reduce stress on bones and joints while improving circulation and flexibility. By utilizing a non-weight bearing environment and instead using the natural resistance of water, aquatic rehabilitation works extremely well in cases of patients with arthritis, acute joint or spine injuries, and those who are generally very weak. Many geriatric cases use aquatic physical therapy to address age related issues that can interfere with physical activity.
Aquatic physical therapy programs include T’ai Chi routines performed in chest deep water, swimming strokes designed to stimulate muscles, and massage and stretch done in warm water. Programs can be self-directed by patients, or a provider can actually move a patient’s limbs or offer additional resistance. Aquatic rehabilitation allows a wide range of physical therapy options to be utilized for patients who would be otherwise unfit to undergo treatment.
Whether treatment occurs on land or in an aquatic rehabilitation program, physical therapy has been improving patients’ well being since ancient times.