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Knee Rehabilitation

Knee pain is one of the most common patient complaints physical therapists and athletic trainers have to deal with. A growing clinical consensus agrees that low-impact exercises are an essential component of knee conditioning programs, both for patients recovering from surgery and for osteoarthritis and other chronic pain sufferers. With a HydroWorx therapy pool for knee rehab, your patients can take advantage of one of the most sophisticated aquatics devices on the market today.

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What Can Knee Hydrotherapy Help With?

Hydrotherapy can provide effective results if your patient is recovering from a sports-related knee injury or suffers from chronic knee pain. Our HydroWorx aquatic wellness pools are suitable for various knee injuries and chronic conditions, including:

  • Torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs) or medial collateral ligaments (MCLs).
  • Meniscus tears.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Knee replacement recovery.

Research Results

  • Osteoarthritis: Chronic knee pain is one of the persistent and frustrating effects of osteoarthritis. For many patients, it affects their ability to walk and their overall quality of life. Recent research suggests knee conditioning programs containing an aquatic therapy portion have more positive outcomes than wholly land-based PT. A joint study from the University of Florida’s Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology and the Physical Education and Recreation department at Utah State University found “an acute training period on an aquatic treadmill positively influenced joint angular velocity and arthritis-related joint pain” for patients suffering from osteoarthritis in the knees.
  • ACL surgery recovery: As one of the most common sports-related injuries, athletic trainers and clinicians are quite familiar with the long rehab process associated with a torn ACL. Research by Drs. Mary E. Sanders and Daryl Lawson has found that recovery from ACL surgery can be expedited when aquatic therapy is made a component of knee rehabilitation. In a study of 20 patients recovering from intra-particular ACL reconstruction, “participants in the water exercise group noted a greater minimization of joint effusion and greater self-reports of functional improvements [as well as] greater muscle girth at the calf and thigh, greater quadriceps strength and better range of motion.”

The Benefits of Hydrotherapy for Knee Rehabilitation

Those suffering from a painful knee injury or chronic knee pain should consider a hydrotherapy protocol to experience noticeable results. Aquatic therapy offers a range of advantages that land-based physical therapy fails to address, such as:

Less Inflammation

Water has special properties that improve blood circulation. Healthy blood circulation effectively reduces inflammation around the knee, preventing scar tissue and improving joint mobility. 

Reduced Pressure on Knee Joints

Water’s buoyancy offers a low-weight-bearing environment, placing less pressure on a patient’s knee joints. Best of all, hydrotherapy exercises are less painful than land-based exercises, since there’s less pressure on the knee.

Pain Relief

Clinicians and athletic trainers can increase the water’s temperature to soothe painful knee joints. Warm water offers pain relief during and after the hydrotherapy session. 

Fewer Risks and Side Effects

Land-based exercises may cause further injuries as they pose several risks, such as falling or putting too much strain on the knee. Hydrotherapy offers a safe environment for athletes and patients to engage in physical activity. Patients don’t have to worry about losing their balance or falling. 

Hydrotherapy offers fewer risks and side effects

Shorter Recovery Period

Since aquatic therapy poses fewer risks, patients can start exercising soon after knee surgery, decreasing their recovery period. Additionally, increased blood circulation promotes faster healing. 

Increased Range of Motion 

During hydrotherapy, patients experience less pain, giving them more confidence to increase their range of motion. Water’s high resistance also strengthens muscles and joints.

Improved Mood

Most people enjoy being in the water, and that’s why hydrotherapy has a positive effect on a patient’s mood. After all, chronic conditions and sports injuries often leave patients feeling depressed or unmotivated. 

Maintained Fitness Level

Athletes with knee injuries can’t participate in their regular sporting activities. Hydrotherapy can keep their bodies conditioned to physical activity as they recover, helping them maintain their fitness levels while out of action.

Exercises for Knee Rehabilitation

Clinicians and athletic trainers usually start their patients and athletes on low-intensity exercises and work their way up to more intense workouts. Clinicians can decide when to increase their patients’ workout intensity. Some common knee rehabilitation exercises include:

  • Walking
  • Balancing
  • Jogging
  • Shuffling from side to side
  • Frontal plains
  • Jumping

As athletes progress, athletic trainers may include sprinting, plyometrics and agility exercises.

Why Choose HydroWorx Aquatic Wellness Pools?

Our aquatic wellness pools are perfectly suited for sports-related and chronic knee injuries. They have several features to condition athletes and assist patients with their recovery. These valuable features include:

  • Built-in treadmill: All our pools come with built-in underwater treadmills, providing a safe environment for patients and athletes to engage in walking exercises. Clinicians and athletic trainers can adjust the water level to either waist- or chest-deep, depending on the patient’s needs. 
  • Underwater cameras: It’s essential for clinicians to monitor a patient’s knee movements and gait patterns. Underwater cameras ensure the correct form and posture as patients exercise. 
  • Resistance jets: As athletes and patients progress through their rehabilitation program, athletic trainers and clinicians can increase the intensity of their workouts with our adjustable resistance jets. Patients and athletes can also enjoy a deep tissue massage to soothe their muscles after the training. 
  • Moveable flooring: Our 2000 and 1200 Series aquatic wellness pools have movable flooring, providing patients with easy access during each session without needing to use ladders or steps.

Grow Your Business for Less

Offering aquatic therapy for knee rehabilitation opens a whole new revenue stream for your facility. Your clients’ recovery times will improve, allowing you to grow your business by taking on new patients. If you’ve been considering a therapy pool for knee rehabilitation in your facilities but aren’t sure if the expense is worth it, please contact HydroWorx today to request your free business plan and ROI calculator.

Each day, over 23,000 people use HydroWorx products at some of the world’s top training centers, hospitals and professional sports organizations. Your facility can be the next one to tap into the growing market for aquatic therapy — contact our team today for more information.

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Case Study

Georgia Physical Therapy, a prominent advocate for aquatic therapy, constantly helps patients recovering from surgeries. “Patients love the pool. People love the pool. Once they get in there I think they feel, ‘I could be this much better on land’… There is a little more glimmer of hope,” says Bonnie Spears the clinical director and physical therapy assistant at Georgia Physical Therapy. Orthopedic surgeries such as knee or hip replacements are a frightening process for many people due to the rigorous rehab following the surgery. Aquatic therapy gives patients a sense of comfort as they begin the process of rehabilitation.

Claire Rivera was constantly trying to control her intense knee pain and alleviate a serious case of arthritis that was constantly bothering her. She knew something needed to be done and she decided to undergo a double knee replacement in the summer of 2015.

Shortly after her surgery, Claire began aquatic therapy in the HydroWorx 500 Series at Georgia Physical Therapy. At the start, Claire was unable to completely straighten her knee, known as a flexion contracture, which decreased her full range of motion.  The full range of motion in a healthy knee is 0° of extension (completely straight) to 135° of flexion (fully bent knee joint). Claire only had about 85°-90° of flexion and was nowhere near full extension.

The specialists at Georgia Physical Therapy immediately began to try to improve Claire’s range of motion in the therapy pools. Patients in the pool feel as if they are a fraction of their true weight, due to the buoyancy of the water, so they can exercise without fear of further injuring themselves. Claire also had a history of lower back pain, so it was imperative to make sure she did not aggravate her back while focusing on rehabilitation for her knees.  The pool not only helped Claire walk correctly, but she also greatly increased her range of motion without any stress on her lower back.

After months of rehabilitation at Georgia Physical Therapy using the aquatic therapy pools, Claire made a full recovery. The underwater treadmill gave Claire the confidence and capability to once again walk correctly. Looking back on her time at Georgia Physical Therapy, Claire said, “I feel like my knees are 100% and they’re more reliable than my own knees ever were. So I’m happy!”

View additional ACL tear case studies here.