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Hydrotherapy for Quadriplegics

Hydrotherapy for Quadriplegics

Hydrotherapy can be an effective, soothing and valuable activity for individuals affected by paralysis in their limbs. This type of physical therapy uses a range of low-impact exercises to assist in rehabilitation, recovery and relaxation. Hydrotherapy aims to improve joint motion, coordination and balance for those with neurologic and musculoskeletal conditions.

Benefits of Quadriplegic Workouts and Activities

Hydrotherapy has been proven to relieve pain for numerous conditions. Warm water has a relaxing effect on the muscles, decreasing the pain threshold and the effects of lactic acid in the body. Hydrotherapy consists of various exercises and workouts that enhance the body’s respiratory status, endurance and psychological state while reducing spasticity.

For spinal cord injury survivors, the unique characteristics of water enable them to move freely without the fear of falling — something that can be difficult to do on land. Spinal cord injury patients may experience abnormal blood pressure, arrhythmias, heart rate variability and a decreased cardiovascular response to physical activity. These conditions can all restrict their exercise capability. Hydrotherapy helps patients improve their overall cardiorespiratory status and limb functioning.

A Case Study in Quadriplegic Therapy

A spinal cord injury refers to any damage or trauma that impairs, damages or inhibits the function of the spine. Alex Guizzetti was in a car accident in November of 2010 that resulted in a life-changing spinal injury. Following the accident, Alex was labeled as a quadriplegic — he was unable to walk and had to relearn tasks and activities in order to function independently on a daily basis. Since then, Alex has worked tirelessly to regain his mobility.

In July of 2012, Alex began working with Marquette General Therapies, Managed by UP Rehab Services and their dual land and aquatic therapy services. He is currently seen by Katie Bowlby, PTA, multiple days a week for occupational and physical therapy.

Today, Alex walks into therapy with the assistance of lofstrand crutches and relentlessly fights for his growing stability, endurance and independence. His personal goal is to be able to walk for longer amounts of time without resting on his own treadmill at home. Bowlby utilizes the HydroWorx 500 Series pool in Alex’s recovery process.

The resistance of the water, in combination with the decreased amount of pressure and weight on his joints, allows him to work on increasing endurance. It also enables him to improve core, hip, leg and foot strength without the high risk of injury, pain and discomfort that he experiences on land.

Some of the protocols that Alex focuses on are:

  • Walking on the treadmill to re-train his muscles and work on endurance
  • Side-stepping on the treadmill to strengthen abductors in his hips
  • Squats and single-leg squats, which help with neuromuscular re-education for coordination and strength
  • Floating exercises such as flutter kicks, scissors and bicycles
  • Marching in place
  • Heel/toe raises

In addition to the lessening of pressure on his spine, some of the advantages Alex has identified are overall muscle strengthening and an increase in his general comfort and endurance. These improvements, partnered with land therapy and home exercises, are noticeably improving Alex’s ability to tackle more daily activities each week.

Bring Hydrotherapy to Your Facility

If you’re in the healthcare or senior living industry, improving your patients’ lives is your top priority. At HydroWorx, we want to help you optimize your rehabilitation treatments and services with our premier aquatic therapy products. From underwater treadmills to resistance therapy jets to custom pool solutions, we have what you need to enhance your sessions and improve your patients’ quality of life. Contact us today to learn about the diverse applications of our hydrotherapy pools.

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