By: Lora Foust, Occupational Therapist
I am an occupational therapist who works with people of all ages to become more independent in daily tasks. Do you know what a privilege we have to do aquatic therapy? I challenge you to research aquatic therapy and sensory integration or autism spectrum disorder, stroke or cerebral palsy, arthritis or fibromyalgia, among others. Water is comforting and relaxing. It was the first medium our bodies knew in the womb. Its buoyancy decreases weight and stress on the joints. The hydrostatic pressure reduces swelling and offsets blood pooling. Its viscosity allows therapists to increase or decrease how hard the person trains and increases body awareness. The therapist can use flow or drag to make the therapy fit the person’s needs. I witnessed aquatic therapy in Germany years ago. In one setting it was used to bring back movement in limbs that were affected by a stroke. Another client had lost a limb in an accident and was learning his new center of gravity with the support and safety of the water. A child with special needs was learning to walk. In Mercy-North Iowa in Mason City, a therapist friend of mine led a group called “Rusty Hinges”. People with arthritis learned to move without pain. Aquatic therapy is not for every patient or every condition we treat, but it is a wonderful tool to use with some. I can hardly wait to get started!
Stacey Sellner, PT, speaks about the benefits of Aquatic Therapy next to the warm water therapy pool at the Maslowski Wellness & Research Center: