Exercising can be very helpful to your physical and mental health, but for someone who is physically disabled, it can be a lifesaver.
The buoyancy in water eliminates the effects of gravity on the body, so for people with disabilities, their bodies are easier to move. The water allows physically disabled people to stretch, strengthen and restore balance to their body. Although performing regular cardiovascular or muscle strengthening exercises are possible for people with disabilities, aquatic therapy has the ability to show promising results as well.
People with disabilities such as muscular dystrophy, brain and spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy may find it hard to climb, run or walk on land, but in the water, it becomes much easier. With aquatic therapy, trainers can help strengthen your body, relieve pain and stress on the muscles and joints and help to correct problems in gait and balance with less effort than on land. Once you’ve learned how to do those things in the water, it will be much easier to practice on land.
Depending on the disability, there are exercises and practices that can help anyone. Flaccid, weak extremities may float and cause stability issues. Spastic, flexed extremities may sink. Flotation devices such as water noodles, lifejackets or other aquatic flotation devices can help with these types of stability issues as the therapist continues to train you in the water. If you have a special need, aquatic therapy is designed to fit and meet those needs while helping you to train your body. Your therapist’s job is to make sure that they are familiar with your disability enough to make sure that each exercise they assign you is specific to your needs and will help you develop the skills you are missing.
Aquatic therapy can also be fun while also being a healthy exercise for your body. In 2014, Ashley Grimes stated that her daughter Ella who had a cerebral arteriovenous malformation and stroke, highly benefited from aquatic therapy at Our Children’s House at Baylor. The therapy helped her control her condition by helping her walking and standing balance, learning to climb up and down stairs and increase her range of motion in her right arm. Grimes had seen tremendous results in her daughter while also noticing how much fun she was having in the water.
Aquatic therapy can also decrease stress and depression. Often times, having a disability can lead to social isolation, believing that one does not have control over their own choices or destiny, and the belief that exercise or fun is impossible for them. By introducing a disabled person to aquatic therapy, they will find all of their disbeliefs shattering as well as the effects of exercise bringing about a positive attitude and confidence.
Aquatic therapy is also said to help people with Down syndrome, hypotonic and developmental delay. Whatever your disability, your practitioner or therapist can help your body and mind feel amazing after training in the water. Aquatic therapy has already shown promising results for several people who have lost certain functions in their mind and bodies, and continues to prove that it is worth trying out.
If you want to learn more about aquatic therapy and how it can help you, click here for more information!
Photo Credit: Exceed Worldwide