Using Aquatic Therapy to Recover From a Stroke

Answers from Kathleen Cutter, physical therapist with Providence Rehabilitation Services:

Q: Why do some people need physical therapy after a stroke?

Strokes can significantly debilitate a person, affecting even their most basic daily activities, such as getting up from a chair, walking across a room, or preparing a meal.
Q: What types of physical therapy for stroke patients does Providence offer?

Providence offers a full range of therapies, including hospital-based and outpatient rehabilitation, home health physical therapy, and aquatic physical therapy.

Q: What are the benefits of aquatic therapy?

The supportive properties of the warm water allow our clients to improve their movement skills without fear of falling. The buoyancy allows them to lift their legs or move their arms in ways they can’t in “the real world.”

Q: What different types of exercises can you do in the pool to address stroke injuries?

Pool activities include: stretches and strengthening, balance and coordination, walking and aerobics. Plus, specific techniques that the therapist performs to help restore normal movement patterns.

Q: Can people then do these exercises on their own, in their own health club's pool, for example?

Our goal for all patients is that they will continue to perform their exercise program, either individually or in a community-based pool program, such as Providence Easter Seals’ post-stroke class.

Q: Can you see a difference in your clients' abilities after finishing aquatic therapy?

It is exciting to see a person not only develop their skills, but more importantly, a new level of confidence and empowerment over their own stroke rehabilitation process.

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