Aquatic therapy is a special kind of physical therapy that is used to treat many conditions, from injuries to arthritis to back pain, and is offered locally at certain Tidewater Physical Therapy locations.
Paul Reed, PT, DPT and Clinical Director of the Tidewater Physical Therapy location at First Colonial in Virginia Beach, recently sat down at the Hampton Roads Show to chat about the benefits of aquatic therapy and how it’s being used in the Tidewater Physical Therapy clinics to alleviate and heal patients of their pain.
WAVY: Joining us now is physical therapist, Paul Reed, Clinical Director of the Tidewater Physical Therapy Clinic at First Colonial in Virginia Beach. He’s here to tell us more about aquatic therapy and how it works. Thanks for being here.
First off tell me, what are the conditions that aquatic therapy can benefit?
Paul Reed: Aquatic therapy is very beneficial for, as you mentioned earlier, patients or individuals that have arthritis—arthritis in the knees, or arthritis in the hips or back.
The pool allows that individual to start an exercise program minimizing the impact on the joints.
Now you work with a variety of patients, I’m sure. Do you have any success stories that really stick out?
Actually, there’s a specific type of patient, the patient that comes in to see me that has fibromyalgia or even a joint replacement. Those individuals tend to respond extremely well to the pool therapy because the pool is kept very warm. There’s an underwater treadmill in the pool so that individuals are able to start walking programs. So, probably more than anything, it’s a patient population, chronic pain or joint replacement realm.
Now, when you think about aquatic therapy and getting in the pool, for a lot of people that aren’t used to doing that, that could take some effort to go to the pool and get in there and start moving.
I think what sets aquatic therapy apart from the typical recreation center, aquatic aerobics, is that the pool is heated, so it’s very, very comfortable to get into a heated pool. And, also the programs that the physical therapists develop are very individualized and specific for that person, so you feel that you have a say in sort of the goals that have been established and set– you can really feel like you have an active part in this. Plus, you feel a sense of responsibility if you’re going to see somebody for this type of treatment.
True, true. And you do hear a lot about the benefits when you get in the pool and get those joints moving, and maybe not putting as much pressure. Now what about athletes? Can they benefit from aquatic therapy as well?
They absolutely can. I’ve seen, in the past year I’ve been over at the First Colonial area practicing, and I’ve seen several athletes. I’ve seen runners recovering from a broken foot or a sprained ankle, all the way up to football players who have strains in their back. The treadmill that I have in my therapy pool is a really unique treadmill. It can start very slow— at half a mile an hour for walking, but it can go all the way up to 12 miles per hour for running. There’s therapy jets in the pool that allow us to put stress on the individual as they are running, so I can treat a low-level performing athlete and a very high-level performing athlete at the same time.
So it sounds like you have some equipment or aids that are in the pool that you use to help with your different aquatic therapy patients.
Specifically the treadmill, that’s been really a remarkable tool. Having someone walk in the water versus walking on land is totally different.
Is that a tough adjustment to get used to walking in the water?
It is initially because you want to feel like you’re walking on your tippy toes, but about a minute or so into it they tend to respond well and start walking.
For people who are interested in this, is this something that insurance will cover?
This is covered through insurance—Medicare and Tricare cover, as well. Once you come into physical therapy, aquatic therapy can just be part of the treatment plan. Of course there are others, we do a lot of manual therapy and a lot land-based therapy, as well, but it is covered through insurance.
1747 Camelot Drive in Virginia Beach.
It’s aquatic therapy at Tidewater Physical Therapy.
If you want more information, you can go online at TPTI.com or call (757) 961-4800.
Thanks so much for being here and sharing that information.