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What Is Pool Therapy?

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Ochsner Baton Rouge physical therapist Derek Ward explains the benefits of using an underwater treadmill and other aquatic tools for rehabilitation.

Pool therapy consists of doing exercises underwater where the patient is unweighted or limiting the amount of weight and stress on their joints so that they're still able to work all of their muscles.

The goal with pool therapy is to get the patient as strong as possible and get their range of motion as full as possible. Then they graduate back outside into the clinic and start working their way back to getting back to everyday life. The pool can provide different avenues for an athlete. With the underwater treadmill, the physical therapist can speed it up where the patient is in a full sprint underneath the water. They have two jets in the front that can also provide resistance while the patient is running.

The resistance jets can be used for upper body exercises with the treadmill off. They have cameras underneath the water, too, so the patient's gait can be analyzed.

Ward said, "I find that with most of my athletes, the hurdle is not really the strength and range of motion part; it's getting them to trust the process. I think it can definitely help them build up the confidence to get back out on land because we just want our patients to get better at the end of the day. If that means that pain is decreasing and they're getting strong in the pool, then that's what we want to go for."

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