The healing power of water is steeped in folklore and rituals the world over, but its ability to facilitate recovery from injury and illness also rests on a solid body of science. Often used by Soaring Health physiotherapists to complement hands-on techniques and land-based exercises, the discipline harnesses the buoyancy of water to support muscles and joints through specific movements without the gravitational weight loading of land-based exercise, which can overburden and even re-injure weakened joints and muscles.
It can both promote faster healing from injury and provide immediate relief by reducing pain and swelling. Hydrotherapy may also be used to relieve the discomfort of chronic pain in conditions such as arthritis and enable restorative exercises that may otherwise be prohibited by pain and stiffness – potentially reducing symptom severity in the longer term.
AQUATIC OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY
Suitable for children of all ages, from toddlers to adolescents, aquatic occupational therapy is an integrative methodology that simultaneously promotes motor development, sensory processing and social, play and communication skills. Conducted individually or in a small group, it harnesses the unique environment of the pool to provide an enjoyable, safe, holistic learning and development experience. Tailored to each participant’s needs, aquatic occupational therapy may greatly benefit children with physical and intellectual disabilities, brain injuries, developmental delays, communication and language disorders, interpersonal and social difficulties, sensory processing deficits and diagnoses such as autism spectrum disorder.
Aquatic occupational therapy shares some merits with hydrotherapy provided as part of physiotherapy treatment. However, the two disciplines have distinct benefits. While hydrotherapy focuses on movement and function, enhancing areas such as body control and balance, aquatic occupational therapy focuses primarily on encouraging socially-acceptable behaviours using activities that promote successful teamwork and interaction.
How aquatic OT helps
For children with restricted or limited play, pool-based games provide a natural opportunity to develop diverse play skills while improving communication skills. Children with diagnoses such as autism spectrum disorder or conditions that impair social interaction can benefit greatly from the interactive nature of aquatic occupational therapy, which instills competence and confidence in appropriate interpersonal communication.
The calming nature of water has also proven effective for helping children with behavioural challenges to self-regulate emotions and behaviour. The soothing, tactile properties of water may also assist children with touch aversion to tolerate and process the sensory aspects of touch – which is itself healing – in a non-threatening context.
Who can benefit from hydrotherapy?
- Physiotherapy and chiropractic clients seeking to complement healing promoted by hands-on physiotherapy
- Those unable to perform land-based, weight-bearing exercise due to joint pain or dysfunction
- Sufferers of chronic pain conditions and associated discomfort
- Rehabilitation candidates
Issues that may be treated or managed with hydrotherapy
- Muscular tension and muscle spasm
- Pain due to injury
- Pain due to chronic conditions such as arthritis
- Stiffness and weakness after muscle or joint surgery (e.g. reconstruction or replacement)
- Muscle weakness and/or movement limitations after illness or prolonged break from resistance exercise
- Balance and stability issues
Group hydrotherapy delivers the benefits of one-on-one hydrotherapy with the additional benefits of peer interaction and interactive activities. This may be particularly helpful for participants whose functional and mobility challenges have resulted in social isolation or limited social interaction. Like individual hydrotherapy, group hydrotherapy harnesses the buoyancy of water to enable participants to execute therapeutic exercises they are unable to complete on land, in turn enabling faster progress towards greater function.
Hydrotherapy is often a stepping stone in rehabilitation programs and treatment plans designed to relieve pain and improve muscle strength and joint mobility. Led by a physiotherapist in a warm pool, it is suitable for adult clients of all ages with a range of conditions including arthritis, chronic pain, general weakness, muscle spasm, joint replacement and other musculoskeletal issues that impair function and movement. Often integrated with other treatment disciplines, group hydrotherapy may also be recommended for adults undertaking an occupational therapy group program.
Hydrotherapy Clinical Consultations
We have designed our clinics to ensure that the Soaring Health experience is seamless, welcoming and therapeutic for clients with varying needs and abilities. Facilities such as ramps, wide corridors, hand rails, large change rooms and selected furniture enable seamless access to our state-of-the-art therapy rooms, which are equipped with all the resources required to provide you with a goal-driven, therapeutic consultation.
Your Soaring Health practitioners are experienced in providing community consultations at community centres, respite centres, schools, aged care facilities and kindergartens. Soaring Health practitioners have the required training and authorisations to provide medical therapeutic services at these centres. Seeing our clients in these settings allows us to work on community participation goals, behavioural support plans and social interactions in different dynamic and real-life environments. Please speak to your Soaring Health practitioner about community consultations.