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Aquatic exercise/therapy for

Neurological Conditions

The benefits of Aquatic Physiotherapy for this group of patients are enormous, not just from the support that the water supplies but for the sense of achievement and independence it provides as often neurological patients are able to perform activities in the pool that they are unable to perform on dry land.

In comparison with land based physiotherapy, exercising in the water eliminates anxiety and fear of falling by providing postural support. This often enables improved relaxation and flexibility of the limbs.

Late stage rehab can be enhanced in the water by challenging a patient’s stability further using the waters’ properties of drag and turbulence.

Hydrotherapy / Aquatic Physiotherapy is not always suitable for Neurological patients and close liaison with each patient's individual land neurological physiotherapist is essential. We assess each case individually in terms of safety and appropriateness for treatment.

Advantages of hydrotherapy in neurological rehabilitation:

• The warm water allows increased movement, as it decreases joint stiffness, normalises tone, and promotes relaxation of the muscles. The combination of these effects is likely to relieve pain.
• Water can provide resistance against which we can strengthen weak muscles
• The buoyancy effect of water can facilitate passive stretching
• Water provides a safe environment in which to practice balance and walking, it also allows for easier handling for the physiotherapist
• The buoyancy effect allows decreased weight bearing and walking can be practiced sooner than on land
• Improve balance and coordination
• Improve posture
• Stimulate circulation
• Improve self-confidence, sense of well-being and relaxation

Aquaphysio have been very good to me over the years. As a stroke survivor I do one session a week of aquatic physiotherapy and it breaks up my arduous land based therapy. I wouldn't find a way to make the journey if it wasn't worth it. I would recommend them to anyone.


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A Pool Session For A Stroke Survivor


Neurological Conditions which may benefit from Aquatic Physiotherapy are:


A Stroke, also known as a Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA) is damage to the brain caused either by a blood clot or a bleed within the blood vessels. Aquatic physiotherapy aims to maximise functional independence for stroke patients by:

• Promoting normal movement patterns and walking
• Normalising muscle tone  and reducing spasticity
• Improving muscle strength, postural stability and balance reactions


Paraplegia is impairment in motor or sensory function of the lower extremities caused by spinal cord injury or a congenital condition that affects elements of the spinal canal. The area of the spinal canal that is affected in paraplegia is either the thoracic, lumbar, or sacral regions. Aquatic physiotherapy aims to maximize independence by

• Improving muscle strength and mobility
• Improving balance and transferability
• Improve self-confidence

Parkinson disease:

Parkinson’s Disease is a condition affecting the brain which causes symptoms such as muscle stiffness, shaking (tremor), slowness and poor initiation of movement. Aquatic physiotherapy aims to maximise functional independence for Parkinson’s patients by:

• Improving  posture
• Reducing freezing
• Re-educating gait
• Improving balance to help  prevent falls
• Improving muscle strength, flexibility and functional activity

Peripheral nerve lesions

Peripheral nerve lesions are damage to the nerves outside the spinal cord and brain. They can be caused by trauma or due to prolonged compression.  Nerve lesions can also be caused by infection and/or inflammation (e.g. Guillain-Barre Syndrome). Peripheral neuropathy produces symptoms such as weakness, muscle cramps, twitching, pain, numbness, burning, and tingling. Aquatic physiotherapy aims to restore functional independence by:

• helping managing pain
• Improving muscle strength and mobility
• Improving balance
• Re-educating gait

Partial and complete spinal cord lesions

A Spinal Cord Injury is an injury to the spinal cord resulting in a change, either temporary or permanent, to the cords function; the injury may be partial or full. Depending on the level and severity of the damage, Aquatic physiotherapy aims to maximise independence for Spinal Cord Injured patients by:

• Managing pain
• Reducing spasticity
• Improving muscle strength and mobility
• Improving balance and transferability

Post neurosurgery

Neurosurgery can be performed for numerous conditions of the brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves. Aquatic physiotherapy following surgery helps to restore normal function by:

• Improving posture
• Re-educating gait
• Improving balance
• Improving muscle strength, flexibility and functional activity

Muscular dystrophy

The muscular dystrophies (MD) are a group of inherited genetic conditions that gradually cause the muscles to weaken, leading to an increasing level of disability. Aquatic physiotherapy can help maintain function and maximum possible improvement by:

• Maintaining and improving muscle strength
• Improving flexibility
• Increasing mobility
• Improving  quality of life

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