5 Things to Tell Your Patient Before an Aquatic Therapy Session
Aquatic therapy can be a relaxing and fun experience, but patients may be nervous when they first start coming to sessions. That’s why it is important for the clinician to explain everything they need to know ahead of time — that way, the patient will feel more comfortable before the session and enjoy the experience without any surprises. Here are five suggested things to cover with your patient before their aquatic therapy session.
1. Explain the Appropriate Items Needed for the Session
This may sound like an obvious tip, but ask your patient to bring a swimsuit or something they can wear in the water during their session. Typically, patients are nervous or uncomfortable about putting on a bathing suit. Be sure to offer alternative ideas, such as a microfiber shirt and gym shorts. It is also important to outline your expectations for their attire, including any laundering guidelines. Many facilities request that pool clothing not be laundered with certain detergents because the chemicals or dyes can affect water chemistry. Some clinics choose to provide swimwear for their patients in order to alleviate an additional stressor.
Additionally, let them know if there are any other items you expect them to bring along when they come to therapy. Explain if they need to bring a towel or footwear for walking from the changing area to the pool. Clarifying details like this helps everything run more smoothly when the individual arrives for the session. Communication is the key to building a strong, successful relationship between yourself and the patient.
2. Tell Them How Long It Will Last
Do you plan to have your patient work out in the pool for 30 minutes? An hour? Whatever the amount of time you expect the therapy session to take, be sure to let the person know in advance so that they can make the appropriate adjustments to their day.
While sharing the session time may be obvious, be sure to clarify expectations on arrival time, changing time and pool time. Aquatic therapy sessions differ from land therapy sessions because there are multiple steps involved. To keep things on schedule, it helps to make sure that patients understand what changing areas are available and when they need to be dressed and ready to get in the pool.
If a patient is doing both land and pool therapy sessions during one visit, communicate the expected transitions and which will come first. Time is important to both you and them — if you each have a clear idea of the schedule you plan to follow, it will make life much easier for everyone involved.
3. Explain How They’ll Enter the Water
If you’re using aquatic physical therapy to treat a patient with a severe injury or mobility limitations, they could have concerns about how they’ll enter and exit the pool. Ladders can present challenges for people who have a hard time walking or moving in certain ways.
Some therapy pools have easier solutions, such as stairs, chairlifts — or, in the case of some HydroWorx pools, a movable floor that can be raised or lowered to give patients easier access. Let your patient know if your therapy pool has features like these so you can ease their worries and give them a more pleasant experience.
4. Let Them Know If They’ll Need to Know How to Swim
While water can be a fun therapy option, some patients are nervous about swimming or putting their heads under the water. Some may even have a fear of the water. Most aquatic therapy sessions do not require swimming or submerging a patient’s head, but some shoulder or back programs may incorporate some of these activities. That’s why it’s important to let them know ahead of time if any of the exercises in your program require putting their head under the water.
Clinicians can ease patient fears by showing what control the patient and clinician have over the water depth. Some patients will require a more adaptable experience, so you may need to start exercises in a shallower space until the patient is comfortable and then you can progress them into deeper water when they are ready.
5. Go Over the Exercises You Have Planned
Before you start your patient’s sessions, it’s best to take a little time to go over the program with them and see if they have any questions or concerns about it. Let them know what types of exercises you have in mind, and offer them alternatives they can turn to if they feel uncomfortable.
Give New Hydrotherapy Patients Peace of Mind
Once you’ve covered the basics of their first hydrotherapy session, you can give your patients more information and address their concerns to prepare them for their rehabilitation program. Ensure your patients enter their hydrotherapy program with peace of mind with this advice:
Listen to Their Concerns and Objections
Although you’ve explained the essentials of their first aquatic therapy session, your patients may still have some objections or anxieties about hydrotherapy. For example, they may worry about people seeing them in their bathing suit or getting their wounds wet. No matter their concerns, calmly assure them of an actionable solution.
Provide Them With Educational Resources and Testimonials
Not many people know about hydrotherapy, and if they do, they often know very little about the subject. If your patients are reluctant to start aquatic therapy, you can provide them with educational resources, such as videos, blogs, brochures and research papers. You can also show them patient testimonials or share a story about a previous patient’s success.
Ease Into the Program Slowly
Before they dive into their rehabilitation program, why not get them used to the water first? Encourage them to move around in the water and practice the proper stance before they start their aquatics. Getting accustomed to the water is a significant part of building confidence. Additionally, teaching them the correct stance from the beginning improves their chances of success.
Invite Them to Watch One of Your Hydrotherapy Sessions
If your other patients don’t mind, invite your first-time aquatic therapy patients to one of your regular sessions. Introduce newcomers to some of your other patients, and ask them to relate their positive experiences with hydrotherapy. In addition to increasing their trust in your rehabilitation program, meeting other patients instills a sense of community.
Keeping your patients in the loop about their program will help them trust you and make your therapy sessions together more productive. If you have any questions about our products or our movable floor technology, contact us today.