All physical therapists have one thing in common; that is, to enhance the quality of life of each individual that they work with. If you are reading this, chances are, you have worked with individuals of all ages, each with their own unique set of abilities. You have assisted patients in rehabilitating from injuries, aided in managing chronic medical conditions, played a pivotal role in helping patients avoid surgery and having to take certain types of prescription medications, and have aided those individuals in developing healthy habits.

Aquatic Physical Therapy Rehabilitation

You have done all of this in a variety of settings, but have you done it in the water? Does this sound appealing to you? If you answered “yes”, you may enjoy becoming an aquatic physical therapist!

This allows you to perform a large variety of your services in a water-based environment. While you will still work with many types of people, this physical therapy position will allow you to work more closely with those that suffer from injuries and physical-based disabilities.

Additionally, you will be more likely to work more closely with elderly population. Continue reading to learn more about the exciting career path of aquatic physical therapy rehabilitation.

What is an Aquatic Physical Therapist?

As mentioned previously, an aquatic physical therapist or aquatic rehabilitation therapist is simply a physical therapist that provides their services in a pool or similar type of aquatic-based environment.

Your responsibilities include helping patients in mitigating the negative impact of certain types of disabilities, regain their overall mobility, increase their strength and endurance levels, and simply promote general wellness.

Due to the necessity to spend large amounts of time in the water, it is important to have swimming and diving skills.

How Does One Become an Aquatic Physical Therapist?

To become an aquatic physical therapist, you must have your license to practice physical therapy and you must complete any type of specialized courses that is required for the field. Examples include water safety courses, principles of hydrodynamics, and even those that outline the risks associated with aquatic-based environments.

While there is no current licensing process for this particular branch of physical therapy, there are schools and other facilities that offer a form of certification in aquatic therapy. You should make it a goal to obtain these credentials as it will provide you with the competitive edge needed to obtain a position in this field.

Aquatic Physical Therapy Wikimedia

Are There Special Skills Needed to Become a Water Physical Therapist?

As mentioned before, any specialized course pertaining to aquatic physical therapy are highly recommended. In addition to this, you should make certain that your communication skills are strong and that your skills in critical thinking are maximized.

You should also have a keen eye for detail. It is imperative that you also understand how the immersion process and water – in general – impact (both positively and negatively) certain types of injuries, physical ailments, and medical conditions. It also helps to have a calming, soothing personality that will help your patients be at ease while in the water with you. Certain types of other skills – such as first aid and CPR – are also important to have when practicing as an aquatic physical therapist.

What are the Goals of Aquatic Physical Therapy?

Aquatic physical therapists often work in close collaboration with exercise physiologists, medical doctors, and occupational therapists to develop a specialized care plan for each of their clients. There are several goals associated with the activities that take place within the aquatic-based environment. These include -but are not limited to- the following:

  • Reducing the stress levels of the client and promoting a sense of relaxation
  • Increasing the overall flexibility of the client’s body
  • Helping to improve the patient’s mobility and general gait
  • To increase the strength of the muscles and the patient’s overall endurance level
  • Aid in optimizing both coordination levels and balance
  • Enhance the client’s ability to increase their capacity in aerobics and aerobic-based activities

Is Aquatic Physical Therapy the Same as Aerobic Exercise or Fitness?

No, aerobic physical therapy is different than aerobic exercise and fitness. It is a form of physical medicine and/or physical rehabilitation that is provided by a highly trained professional. Additionally, it is covered by most insurance companies because it involved creating a personalized care or treatment plan.

On the other hand, aquatic-based exercise and/or fitness is not supervised by professionals that are specially trained in physical medicine. Furthermore, fitness and/or exercise programs are not covered by insurance companies and the activities are not one-on-one. In most cases, they are performed by many people at once, with various types of physical fitness levels.

Is Aquatic Therapy the Same as Adaptive Aquatics?

No, aquatic therapy and adaptive aquatics are quite different. Adaptive aquatics is a type of service provided to individuals that have disabilities. It teaches them how to safely maneuver and swim in the water. Aquatic physical therapy does not instruct patients on swimming.

What are the Benefits of Aquatic Physical Therapy?

There are many benefits associated with aquatic physical therapy. The main being that when a patient cannot comfortably perform various types of physical activities on land due to illness and/or injury, the water is a safe place to engage in those activities and optimize the health. The following outlines additional benefits:

  • The warmth of the water helps in soothing joint and muscle pain
  • The viscosity of the water or the resistance offered by the water helps in strengthening the muscles
  • The buoyancy offered by the water offsets the gravitational effects on injuries, sore muscles, and/or painful joints
  • Water provides hydrostatic pressure, which helps keep a balance-deficit client stable
  • You can easily help guide clients through the activities that you want them to perform
  • Respiratory-based muscles are naturally strengthened in the water

Connect with Us to Expand Your Career

If you are a physical therapist looking to advance your career, contact us here at Colorado Physical Therapy Network today. You will benefit from the tools, resources, and networking opportunities that we have to offer! Call the following number: 303-757-7004

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