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Hydrotherapy - or aquatic therapy - uses the physical properties of water to help the patient heal and successfully return to normal function.
- While in water, patients bear less weight, which reduces the stress on painful limbs and joints, allowing more effective movement
- Water places pressure on the body, which helps reduce swelling/edema and improves blood circulation
- Exercising through water's resistance aids in muscle strengthening, improves balance and coordination, and promotes cardiovascular retraining
- The temperature of the water (usually between 88 and 92 degrees) relaxes muscles, releases endorphins (natural pain modulators) and improves circulation
The underwater treadmill is one of the most effective pieces of equipment used in aquatic therapy, and is appropriate for most patients, young and old. With regular use, patients can:
- Improve balance, strength and coordination
- Improve joint function
- Improve mobility
- Promote weight bearing
- Enhance overall fitness/weight management
- Re-educate the body to normal limb function
Many conditions can benefit from aquatic therapy using the underwater treadmill:
- Degenerative myelopathy
- Disc disease
- Post orthopedic surgeries
- Neurologic conditions, such as stroke
Aquatic therapy also can be used for the overweight patient as part of a weight management program, and to optimize conditioning and training in "canine athletes."
Kobie's Story: Hydrotherapy Improves a Dog's Limb Deformity and Gait
At 9 weeks of age, Kobie was purchased from a pet store where she had been confined to a cage. Noting an abnormality in the dog’s forelimb and gait, Kobie’s new owner immediately consulted with an orthopedic specialist at NorthStar VETS.
Kobie was diagnosed with bilateral carpal contracture and digital flexor tendon laxity. This condition most likely was secondary to excessive cage confinement prior to purchase. Our orthopedic specialist referred Kobie to NorthStar VETS' Rehabilitation Department for evaluation and a therapeutic plan.
Kobie's carpus was bowing forward and hyperflexing and his digits were hyperextending - both forelimbs were affected. Kobie also walked with her elbows flexed, which was causing discomfort in her elbows and shoulder muscles. As a result of her abnormal gait, her forelimb and shoulder muscles were atrophied.
To address these physical issues, weekly underwater treadmill therapy was begun along with a daily home program of strengthening and stretching exercises. Within two weeks, we saw a marked improvement in Kobie's deformity and her gait had improved dramatically.
Steady and progressive improvement was noted over the following month. The owner was diligent in getting Kobie to perform all the exercises prescribed in the home program, with new exercises added with each re-evaluation. Underwater treadmill sessions continued weekly. Kobie continued to gain weight, grow and develop normally - without any residual limb deformity.
For More Information about Hydrotherapy/Aquatic Therapy at NorthStar VETS
Simply call us at 609.259.8300.