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How a ThermaPool Works to Provide Superior Aquatic-Based Physical Therapy Results

Almost any person regardless of age or physical condition can receive a superior fitness benefit from warm water aquatic exercise therapy, also known as; "aquakinesis™," "hydrokinesis," or "aquatic-kinesisology". Fitness is defined as "adapting to the environment so as to be capable of surviving. A state of physical fitness offers enough energy to perform daily duties with energy left at the end of the day to enjoy leisure time". Fitness and wellness exercises are designed to improve endurance. Increased stamina is also achieved by making the heart and lungs stronger and more efficient through regular fitness routines. Additionally, exercise can help decrease blood glucose levels, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, control weight, improve quality of sleep and develop a sense of overall well being. But all of these benefits are dramatically increased when they are performed inside a deep warm water ThermaPool.

Challenges of Exercise: For many who suffer from some type of physical impairment, achieving this level of "Fitness" is not always easy or affordable. Aquatic exercise is very beneficial, as the buoyancy of the water will help to support weak muscles and decrease joint stress while it can also provide resistance to strong muscles. Aquatic therapy was often utilized during the recovery phase from the original polio. Water is a great equalizer. It allows people to move in ways that they cannot move on land. The buoyancy of water greatly enhances the ability to move and provides resistance based on speed of movement in the water. Further, water exercise offers the ability to improve flexibility, strength, muscle tone and aerobic condition. Water can facilitate a workout that can be tailored to each person’s strength.

Physical Properties of Aquatic Therapy: There are physical properties of water that make exercise less difficult and painful, while increasing its effectiveness. These properties are buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, relative density, fluid resistance and turbulence.

Buoyancy is the upward pressure exerted by a fluid in which a body is immersed. Archimedes’ Principle states that when a body at rest is fully or partially immersed in a fluid, it experiences an upward thrust equal to the weight of the fluid displaced. Buoyancy and gravity constantly oppose each other and reach equilibrium when you float partially immersed. The vertical body is typically at equilibrium when immersed to neck level. Buoyancy can provide support or resistance. As an assist, buoyancy is used to decrease gravitational forces placed on weak limbs that are less able to bear weight. There is less strain on the muscles and joints, requiring less effort to move underwater. Buoyancy adds a challenge to stronger muscles and offers resistance when a floatation device is pushed or held submerged underwater.

Pascal’s Law defines Hydrostatic Pressure as fluid pressure exerted equally on all surface areas of an immersed body at rest at a given depth. Hydrostatic pressure helps return the blood to the heart, causing it to work more efficiently under less pressure. The water surrounding the body helps circulate blood from the legs to the heart, often reducing any swelling in the ankles and feet. Once swelling is reduced, joint tenderness may decrease and range of motion can improve. Additionally, hydrostatic pressure offers mild resistance around the ribcage. Breathing with the trunk immersed in the water is a form of exercise. Although this can help strengthen people with respiratory involvement, it should be approached with caution. Simply being immersed in water has a positive therapeutic effect on our bodies.

Relative Density is the relation of the mass of an object to the mass of an equal volume of liquid at standard temperature and pressure. It determines whether or not an object sinks in the water. Simply stated, if an object is denser than water, it will sink. Muscle tissue is denser than fat. People who are lean and muscular will tend to sink; those with more adipose tissue tend to float. Swollen extremities retain fluid and that fluid is lighter than muscle tissue; giving those body parts a lower relative density and tendency to float. Therefore, it takes less effort to raise weak or swollen extremities than it does to lower them in the water. Muscles that are paralyzed or have atrophied due to polio will have lower relative density and will tend to float.

Fluid Resistance is the force that opposes the motion of an object through a fluid. Basically you have to push your way through the water and it slows you down. Fluid resistance is beneficial in aquatic therapy as it supports and helps to hold you in position while also offering resistance to movement. The fluid resistance of water makes it a perfect environment to perform balance exercise. On land, resistance is felt in only one direction, which leads to an over development of some muscles and under utilization of others. Fluid resistance also increases sensory awareness and allows time to react and learn how to maintain proper balance in a gentle environment.

Turbulence is the random motion of the water as it responds to a disturbance. A person or limb moving through the water creates changing pressures and turbulence. This swirling effect in the water can provide therapeutic benefits of massage and resistance. The gentle massage can increase circulation and reduce pain. The sensation of water on the skin overloads the peripheral nerves. This causes the brain to ignore other signals, such as pain, that your body is sending. Changing the speed and direction of motion can alter turbulent forces. The use of equipment, such as aquatic gloves or paddles, is another way to increase turbulence.