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The Value of Aquatic Therapy for Brain Health As We Age

The Value of Aquatic Therapy for Brain Health As We Age

We all have one thing in common — we all get older each day. Thankfully, modern medicine has made significant advancements with time to enhance the longevity of our lives. That leaves each of us to figure out how to create ways to live our best life with the highest quality, especially into our golden years. 

We all know the importance of being physically active and moving to maintain our mobility, but what about ways to improve our brain health? Alzheimer’s is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. So, what can we do to enhance our brain health and memory? Check out the exciting research on how water exercise is improving the function of the brain.

What Effect Does Water Immersion Have on the Brain?

There are many benefits of cold and warm aquatic therapy for brain health. According to one study, participants who underwent cold water immersion experienced positive emotions and a decreased negative emotional state. Participants also reported feeling:

  • Less nervous
  • Less distressed
  • More active
  • Alert
  • Proud
  • Inspired
  • Attentive

The study indicated that water immersion therapy might have an integrative influence on brain functioning, improving an individual’s moods and emotional states. The research suggests that water immersion can also lessen depression and improve vigor even from a single exposure.

Other research reveals that warm water immersion provides effects similar to low-intensity exercise for the skeletal muscles and increases blood flow through the conduit arteries. As a result, individuals may experience improved endothelial function, blood pressure and peripheral arterial vascular stiffness.

Below are four studies shared in the webinar, “Improving Brain Health Through Aquatic Exercise,” presented by Dr. Becker, that show the significant increase of blood flow to the brain with immersion and through exercise.

We understand that there is a positive effect on the autonomic nervous system, such as increases in blood flow, oxygenation, repair and regeneration with warm water immersion that is not seen with land-based therapy, but what does that mean?

How Aquatic Therapy Can Be Beneficial for Treating Neurological or Brain Disorders

Let’s look at the lobes of the brain, what their primary functions are and where this increase in blood flow is coming from to better understand the brain’s functions and possible reasons for increased cognitive outcomes. 

Our brain certainly controls our ability to:

  • Process
  • Plan
  • Organize
  • Problem-solve
  • Speak
  • Remember
  • Understand
  • Behave
  • Feel
  • Touch
  • See
  • Move

As we age, there is a decrease in cerebral blood flow and vascular elasticity, which plays a role in cognitive decline. Patients with neurological disorders and diseases such as stroke, brain injuries and dementia also experience similar cognitive impairments. 

Warm water immersion produces a balance within the autonomic nervous system, which has been proven to improve mood and mood-related disorders such as depression, improve brain function, enhance working memory, increase cognitive task performance, problem-solving, language skills and processing, and decrease anxiety.

While standard land-based therapy and medication have not been able to reproduce the same effects, there is clear evidence that shows the benefits of water immersion and the importance of incorporating aquatic therapy to enhance cognitive improvements.

Learn More About Aquatic Therapy With HydroWorx

Hydrotherapy rehabilitation and exercise are essential for improving your patients’ and athletes’ quality of life. Water and brain health also go hand in hand. By introducing aquatic therapy at your fitness or wellness center, you can assist aging patients with their cognitive and neurological health. 

Cold plunge pools and ThermalPlunge pool therapy equipment from HydroWorx can increase blood flow and help improve overall mood. Whether you’re a physical therapy clinic owner or senior living facility director, we’ll guide you to the right product. If you want to help your patients explore the benefits of aquatic activities, contact us to learn more about our solutions. We also encourage you to view our aquatic therapy research for more information.

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