Answers to questions about Aquatic Therapy

What is Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic Therapy is the practice of aquatic therapy by a trained and licensed Physical or Occupational Therapist or Therapist Assistant within the environment of a water filled pool. An exercise program designed to improve specific aspects of a patient’s functional abilities through the use of a pool environment. The exercises are designed, instructed and supervised by a Physical Therapist/Assistant.

How does Aquatic Therapy differ from Aquatic Exercise?

Aquatic Therapy
  • Designed for a specific patient and diagnosis
  • Designed to progress toward specific functional goals
  • Includes an individualized program
  • Requires a Physician’s order
  • Reimbursable by most insurers
Aquatic Exercise
  • Designed as general conditioning for individuals with limited mobility
  • Designed to maintain or improve general conditioning
  • Large group setting
  • Does not require a Physician’s order
  • NOT reimbursable thru most insurers

How Does Aquatic Therapy Work?

Buoyancy and Relative Density:

Archimedes Principle – the ration of the weight of an object to the weight of an equal volume of water. Buoyancy can be assistive, resistive and supportive. Hydrostatic Pressure: Pascal’s Law – .43 psi per foot of depth.


Can be in any direction or plane of motion, can be varied by velocity and frontal area, can be gravity assisted or resisted, and can be buoyancy assisted or resisted. Specific Heat of Water: Rate of heat loss or gain: cooler water allows body heat to be dissipated and warmer water allows for body heat to increase. Ideal temperatures for Aquatic Physical Therapy: Rehabilitation is 87-92ºF, Conditioning is 85-90ºF, and Training is 82-84ºF.

What are the Benefits of Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic Therapy decreases pain, decreases muscle spasm and promotes relaxation, decreases joint compression forces/impact and allows limited/early weight bearing, ease of joint mobility and range of motion, and an increase muscle strength and endurance.

Who Will Benefit from Aquatic Therapy?

Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Edema, compression and fracture, chronic pain, post mastectomy, stroke, spinal cord and head injury, prenatal patients, orthopedic, severely weak, Obese, OB/GYN, neurological, trauma, industrial injury and sports injury patients.