Aquatic Physical Therapy is the evidence-based and skilled practice of physical therapy in an aquatic environment by a physical therapist, or a physical therapist assistant under the supervision of a physical therapist. Aquatic Physical Therapy includes but is not limited to treatment, rehabilitation, prevention, health, wellness and fitness of patient/client populations in an aquatic environment with or without the use of assistive, adaptive, orthotic, protective, or supportive devices and equipment.
The unique properties of the aquatic environment enhance interventions for patients/clients across the age span with musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular/pulmonary, and integumentary diseases, disorders, or conditions.
Aquatic Physical Therapy interventions are designed to improve or maintain:
Abbreviated Definition of Aquatic Physical Therapy:
Aquatic Physical Therapy is the scientific practice of physical therapy in an aquatic environment by physical therapists and physical therapists assistants. Aquatic Physical Therapy includes but is not limited to treatment, rehabilitation, prevention, health, wellness and fitness of patient/client populations in an aquatic environment. The unique properties of the aquatic environment enhance treatments for patients/clients across the age span with musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular/pulmonary, and integumentary (skin) diseases, disorders, or conditions.
Abbreviated Definition of Aquatic Physical Therapists:
Aquatic Physical Therapists are licensed physical therapists who perform an examination and evaluation to establish a functional diagnosis, prognosis for functional recovery, and need for PT treatment with a plan of care. Aquatic Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants provide PT treatments in a safe aquatic environment taking into consideration transition to land based functional activities and communication with the patient-care team.
While this is absolutely dependent on water quality and one's person medical history, the has been documented evidence regarding both respiratory and dermatological conditions that one who is immersed in water for prolonged periods, seem to be susceptible to. At this time, there is no specific disease attributed to the water. For more information regarding this topic, you are encouraged to seek information on the following websites:
Here is link to a citation for an article on the topic of lifeguard lung: Click HereAnd, here is a link for another article that provides further background information on the topic - Click Here
The "Developing an Aquatic Physical Therapy Program" and the associated continuing education courses offered by the Section should assist you in getting started. (Click here to download order form) Additionally, list below are several great sources of information regarding design, construction, and risk awareness for pools.
The Aquatic Therapy and Rehab Institute (ATRI) published a document called Safety Standards for Aquatic Therapy and Rehabilitation Practitioners - http://www.atri.org/articles/Standards.pdf, which recommends that a practitioner be in the water for no longer than four (4) continuous hours per day dependent upon the situation and individual (e.g. considering water temperature, water and air chemistry, and personal medical factors).
Additional sites with respect to water safety are the following:
There are several means to report poor working environments, and it may behoove one to solicit the help of local health department officials with such environmental concerns. State health officials, likewise, are mandated to enforce swimming pool standards, and while not all states have adequate swimming codes, this is an option. Per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Compliance Guidance Office, PT's and PTA's practicing in states that have established their own occupational safety and health plan would file complaints through the state. This link will take you to information about State Occupational Safety and Health Plans - http://www.osha.gov/fso/osp/index.html. This Web page provides links for the states that have established their own occupational safety and health administration.
In states that have not established their own occupational safety and health plan, PT's and PTA's would file complaints through the Federal OSHA by going to www.osha.gov, select the link for "Audiences" located on the left side of the page, then click on "Workers", then "Filing a complaint".
General guidelines might include:
82-88 degrees for more active patients and patients with MS
88-92 degrees for less active patients such as those with arthritis or women
92-96 degrees for less active patients with hypertonicity/spasticity issues
This is usually regulated locally by the city/county and/or state Health Department. While there are specific standards for acceptable chemical levels, one must first be aware of those enforced by your region's health governing body. Additional information regarding this can also be found in the following locations:
Things to consider include:
(a) State Practice Act
(b) Liability insurance
(c) Local regulations