Aquatic Therapy with Shelbourne Physiotherapy

Pool Therapy Victoria BCWhat is Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy also known as hydrotherapy or pool therapy is a type of physical therapy that incorporates exercises and manual techniques performed in warm water to rehabilitate patients after injury or to manage chronic conditions. Working in the water allows walking, running and resistance activities as well as manual therapy techniques with decreased joint compression to aid in efficient, effective recovery and to promote early intervention.

Why Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy is an excellent low impact activity for patients of all levels. There are four main components of aquatic therapy make it an effective physical therapy tool:

Hydrotherapy1) Buoyancy: Buoyancy produces a force that supports up to 50% of a patient’s body weight when water level is up waist level and even more when water is deeper. This allows a person to move more easily with decreased stress on muscles, joints and bones making aquatic therapy perfect for patients that have difficulty with weight bearing exercises. The buoyant properties of water also allow patients to exercise even if they have weight bearing restrictions due to fractures, sprains or surgeries.

2) Resistance: Resistance in water can be felt in all directions compared to on land gravity provides resistance in only one direction. Multi-directional resistance allows more efficient muscle strengthening increasing muscle tone at a faster rate than most typical land exercises. Resistance coupled with buoyancy allows patients to strengthen muscles while minimizing joint stress, resulting in less pain.

3) Hydrostatic Pressure: Hydrostatic pressure increases with depth of submersion, which explained simply means the deeper you go under water Hydrotherapy Victoriathe more pressure you will have on your body. Hydrostatic pressure during aquatic therapy helps circulate blood from the legs back to the heart resulting in reduction of swelling in the ankles, feet and legs. Reduced swelling helps decrease pain, decrease joint tenderness and increased range of motion. Hydrostatic pressure also aids in increasing proprioception (joint awareness of position) which is important for patients working on balance as well as patients recovering from joint sprains.

4) Heat: Shelbourne Physical Therapy offers aquatic therapy in a heated pool, 85 degrees. The warm water allows muscles to relax, improving flexibility and range of motion. Heat also helps increase circulation and blood flow to the site of injury, providing delivery of oxygen, nutrients and healing factors to the damaged tissues.

Who Can Benefit from Aquatic Therapy?

Hydrotherapy VictoriaAquatic therapy is perfect for anyone who requires:

  •  decreased weight bearing
  •  joint protection
  •  post-surgical considerations
  •  cardiovascular and strength conditioning
  •  balance considerations / fall risk
  •  rehabilitation for multiple body parts
  •  pregnancy considerations
  •  an individualized home exercise program
  • recovery from a motor vehicle accident and ICBC claim
  • recovery from a workplace injury and WorksafeBC claim

Group Pool Therapy VictoriaIf you are interested in learning more about our aquatic therapy program ask your physical therapist for more information or call (250)-598-9828 to schedule an in clinic evaluation.

Shelbourne Physical Therapy offers aquatic therapy at the Gordon Head Recreation Centre in Victoria/Saanich located at 4100 Lambrick Way, Victoria, B.C. V8N 5R3

Please call our rehabilitation coordinator Larry Muir or Lukas Gehring to inquire about our services in the pool. 250-595-5858.

WorksafeBC Hydrotherapy

Aquatic Physiotherapy Research

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2009 May;90(5):745-55. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2008.12.011.

A specific inpatient aquatic physiotherapy program improves strength after total hip or knee replacement surgery: a randomized controlled trial.

Rahmann AE, Brauer SG, Nitz JC.

Source: Division of Physiotherapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld, Australia.


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of inpatient aquatic physiotherapy in addition to usual ward physiotherapy on the recovery of strength, function, and gait speed after total hip or knee replacement surgery.

DESIGN: Pragmatic randomized controlled trial with blinded 6-month follow-up.

SETTING: Acute-care private hospital.

PARTICIPANTS: People (n=65) undergoing primary hip or knee arthroplasty (average age, 69.6+/-8.2y; 30 men).

INTERVENTIONS: Participants were randomly assigned to receive supplementary inpatient physiotherapy, beginning on day 4: aquatic physiotherapy, nonspecific water exercise, or additional ward physiotherapy.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Strength, gait speed, and functional ability at day 14.

RESULTS: At day 14, hip abductor strength was significantly greater after aquatic physiotherapy intervention than additional ward treatment (P=.001) or water exercise (P=.011). No other outcome measures were significantly different at any time point in the trial, but relative differences favored the aquatic physiotherapy intervention at day 14. No adverse events occurred with early aquatic intervention.

CONCLUSIONS: A specific inpatient aquatic physiotherapy program has a positive effect on early recovery of hip strength after joint replacement surgery. Further studies are required to confirm these findings. Our research indicates that aquatic physiotherapy can be safely considered in this early postoperative phase.

Hong Kong Med J. 2013 Sep 11. doi: 10.12809/hkmj133931.

Physiotherapist-designed aquatic exercise programme for community-dwelling elders with osteoarthritis of the knee: a Hong Kong pilot study.

Source: Shatin VHT Office, Elderly Health Service, Department of Health, Room 326, Shatin Government Offices, 1 Sheung Wo Che Road, Shatin, Hong Kong.Lau MC, Lam JK, Siu E, Fung CS, Li KT, Lam MW.


OBJECTIVES. To examine the effectiveness and feasibility of a community-based aquatic exercise programme for elders with osteoarthritis of the knee. DESIGN. Prospective intervention study, with a before-and-after design. SETTING. Community elders. PARTICIPANTS. Twenty elders aged 65 years or above (mean, 72 years) attending four Elderly Health Centres of the Department of Health who had suffered from osteoarthritis of the knee for at least 3 years and with mild-to-severe knee pain. INTERVENTION. A 10-week aquatic exercise programme designed and led by physiotherapists. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES. Range of motion and power of extension of the knees, functional reach test, repeated sit-to-stand test, and the Chinese Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales 2. RESULTS. There was an improvement in the median range of knee flexion from 115° to 125° (P<0.01) and the median strength of the quadriceps from 9 kg to 21 kg (P<0.001). The median score of the functional reach test increased from 20 cm to 28 cm (P<0.001) and the repeated sit-to-stand test from 10 to 14 repetitions (P<0.001). Also, there was an improvement in the mobility level (P<0.01), walking and bending ability of the trunk (P<0.05), levels of pain (P<0.01) and mood (P<0.01), and the total score (P<0.01) in the Chinese Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales 2. CONCLUSIONS. Physiotherapist-designed aquatic exercise has definite benefits in terms of physical and psychosocial functioning, and should be promoted as one of the strategies to enhance long-term self-management of community elders with knee osteoarthritis.

KEYWORDS: Aged, Exercise therapy, Hydrotherapy, Osteoarthritis, knee, Physical therapy modalities

Clin Rehabil. 2013 Oct 31.

Aquatic therapy improves pain, disability, quality of life, body composition and fitness in sedentary adults with chronic low back pain. A controlled clinical trial.

Source:University of Granada, Granada, Spain.Baena-Beato PA, Artero EG, Arroyo-Morales M, Robles-Fuentes A, Gatto-Cardia MC, Delgado-Fernández M.


Objective:To determine the effects of a two-month intensive aquatic therapy programme on back pain, disability, quality of life, body composition and health-related fitness in sedentary adults with chronic low back pain.Design:Controlled clinical trial.Setting:Community.Subjects:Forty-nine sedentary patients with chronic low back pain.Interventions:Patients were allocated into active group (n = 24, two months, five times/week) or waiting list, control group (n = 25) according to space on the programme.Main measures:Outcomes variables were pain (visual analogue scale), disability (Oswestry Disability Index), quality of life (Quality Short-Form Health Survey 36), body composition (weight, body mass index, body fat percentage and skeletal muscle mass) and health-related fitness (sit-and-reach, handgrip strength, curl-up, Rockport 1-mile test).Results:The active group significantly improved low back pain (-3.83 ± 0.35 mm on the visual analogue scale ), disability (-12.7 ± 1.3 points for the Oswestry Disability Index) and the standardized physical component (10.3 ± 1.4 points for the Quality Short-Form Health Survey 36) of quality-of-life domains (P < 0.001), with no significant changes on the standardized mental component (P = 0.114). In relation to body composition and fitness, the active group showed significant improvements (all P-values < 0.01). The control group presented no significant change in any parameter.Conclusions:A two-month intensive aquatic therapy programme of high-frequency (five times/week) decreases levels of back pain and disability, increases quality of life, and improves body composition and health-related fitness in sedentary adults with chronic low back pain.

KEYWORDS: Aquatic therapy programme, chronic low back pain, disability, fitness, quality of life