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Archive for category: Sports and Leisure

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Aquatic Therapy: Is it Right for you?

Guest Blogger: Carolyn Rocca, Student Occupational Therapist

Water has long been associated with health and healing, making it an excellent tool for rehabilitation. Aquatic therapy, also referred to as pool therapy or hydrotherapy, is one way in which water can be used for therapeutic purposes following injury or illness.

Aquatic therapy refers to water-based treatments or exercises aimed to enable physical rehabilitation, fitness, and relaxation for therapeutic purposes. Treatments and exercises are performed while floating, partially submerged, or fully submerged in water, usually in specialized temperature-controlled pools. The key difference between this form of therapy and land therapy is that movement is facilitated by the physical properties of water, particularly it’s density and specific gravity, hydrostatic pressure, buoyancy, viscosity, and thermodynamics (Becker, 2009).

Due to the specific facilitating properties of water, aquatic therapy can have several benefits for people who have loss or restriction of joint motion, strength, mobility, or function as a result of a specific disease or injury. Aquatic therapies are beneficial in the management of musculoskeletal issues, neurological conditions, and cardiopulmonary problems. More specifically, there is evidence to support that people with fibromyalgia, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, stroke, and chronic pain, as well as people who have undergone surgeries such as total knee and total hip replacements, can significantly benefit from aquatic therapy (CARI, 2014).

The benefits of hydrotherapy will depend on the purpose of why it is being used in your rehabilitation plan, what it is aiming to target, and the type of exercise being completed in the water. In general, there is evidence to support that within a wide range of ages and abilities, hydrotherapy may help people to increase their endurance and strength, improve balance and postural control, reduce perceived pain and muscle spasms, reduce joint pain and stiffness, aid in gait retraining, and improve functional mobility. Additional benefits can include the facilitation of relaxation, improved quality of life, as well as providing opportunities for socialization (CARI, 2014).

A key to the success of many aquatic therapy procedures is the constant attendance and guidance provided by a trained therapist. This can be any rehabilitation professional, such as a physical therapist, occupational therapist, PTA/OTA, etc., who has taken additional and specific training in basic or advanced aquatic physical therapy. The rehab professional’s expertise will be able to match your abilities with the appropriate properties of water to achieve an optimum balance between facilitation and challenge. By adjusting the immersion temperature, type and intensity of activity, level of resistance, use of equipment, and treatment duration the therapist will be able to assist your recovery by gradually increasing the amount of challenge to eventually help you to transition to land exercises.

An added bonus to the therapeutic benefits of aquatic therapy is that it can help to introduce or re-connect you to a leisure interest, and can offer a social outlet. For example, a current client of mine has recently begun pool therapy following injuries sustained in a motor-vehicle collision. Not only will this help in her recovery while she begins to regain strength and function in her legs, but will also re-connect her to her passion for swimming, as this was something she loved to do with friends prior to her accident. Additionally, there is evidence to support that infants and toddlers with mobility impairments that engaged in aquatic therapy can experience significant functional gains in mobility compared to children who solely received land therapy, and that their parents noticed an increase in their socialization and enjoyment while in the pool. In this particular study, the children’s parents then reported an increased willingness and comfort in bringing their children to community pools following aquatic therapy (McManus, & Kotelchuck, 2007), therefore further increasing their future leisure and social opportunities.

Thus, aquatic therapy has the potential to improve physical function, as well as increase community involvement, socialization opportunities, and participation in physical activities. Additionally, this form of therapy can be appropriate and beneficial for all ages and abilities. If you feel that aquatic therapy may be a great addition to your rehabilitation and recovery, speak to your rehabilitation professional about some of the opportunities available in your community.

 

References & Resources

Becker, B. E. (2009). Aquatic therapy: scientific foundations and clinical rehabilitation applications. PM&R, 1(9), 859-872.

Canadian Aquatic Rehab Instructors (CARI) website: http://www.aquaticrehab.ca/

Canadian Aquatic Rehab Instructors (CARI) website link to research (2014). Retrieved from http://www.aquaticrehab.ca/research

McManus, B. M., & Kotelchuck, M. (2007). The effect of aquatic therapy on functional mobility of infants and toddlers in early intervention. Pediatric Physical Therapy, 19(4), 275-282.

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10 000 Steps: Is This the Magic Number?

Wearable fitness devices have set a benchmark of 10 000 steps a day for good health.  Have you ever wondered where this number came from?  And is this the right number for you?  The following article from the Huffington Post delves deeper into where this benchmark came from and how to set the target that is right for you.

The Huffington Post:  What Science Actually Says About Taking 10,000 Steps A Day

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Dance for Parkinson’s Disease

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month.  Learn about how Occupational Therapists assist those living with Parkinson’s Disease in our previous blog:  My Grandma vs. Parkinson’s.  Also, check out this wonderful program, based in Toronto, providing an opportunity for creative expression, physical activity and increased movement control for people with Parkinson’s Disease:  Dancing with Parkinson’s.

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Top Ways to Make Every Day Earth Day!

Saturday, April 22nd, is Earth Day! A day to celebrate the planet that facilitates our survival. With continuing climate change, extreme weather events and heavy pollution, becoming environmentally conscientious has never been more important. Remember that even small changes to your lifestyle and habits can make a difference in protecting our precious planet.  No alternative facts here!

Check out the following simple suggestions to make a positive impact each and every day:

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Spring Has Sprung – Get Active!

Studies show that kids across the globe are becoming less active “couch potatoes” as early as age 7.  In the following from CBC News learn more about this growing problem and the recommended guidelines for daily activity.

CBC News:  Children’s physical activity starts declining at age 7, U.K. study indicates

How can we put a stop to this growing problem?

We challenge you  to spend active time together as a family!  Now that Spring Has Sprung, try some of these fun family activities to boost the health of your children and yourself.    

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Give Your Brain a Workout

Our brains are made of billions of neurons, which interact with each other to complete specific tasks. Signals are sent from one neuron to another along neural pathways, and these determine our thoughts, emotions, insights, and so much more. Each task relies on a different neural pathway, so the pathway for reading a book is different than the pathway for putting on our shirt. The more we use a pathway, the stronger the connection becomes.

These neurons have the ability to physically change themselves when faced with new and difficult experiences. This ability is called neuroplasticity. As we are exposed to new areas, tasks, information or experiences, neural pathways are formed and existing ones are reshaped. This will continue throughout our entire lives as we learn. As we have experienced through practicing a musical instrument, memorizing our shopping list or recalling a friend’s phone number, if we consciously focus and train our brains in a certain area, they will become faster and more efficient at performing those tasks.

Just as we need to exercise the muscles in our body, we also need to exercise our brain.  But what exercises are best?

Take a look at the following from The New York Times that discusses studies on the aging brain and some advice to help you age well.

The New York Times:  How to Become a ‘Superager’

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Accessible Travel 101

Many travel companies, packages, hotels and airlines claim to be “accessible” which is often a blanket term for “we try”.  After all, nothing can be fully “accessible” as each disability is different, requiring varying levels of accommodation.

Travelling with a disability can be difficult, but with thorough planning it can be a wonderful experience.  Our free E-Book on Accessible Travel is full of helpful information, tips and checklists to help you plan, pack and prepare for a fantastic getaway.

Solutions for Living:  Accessible Travel E-Book

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Take A Hike– Your Brain will Thank You!

While studies show that walking in nature can boost mental health, researchers are delving deeper to study the actual effects on the brain.  Learn more about the ongoing studies in the following from the New York Times and be sure to take advantage of all the natural world has to offer this Spring.

The New York Times:  How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain

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Smart Solutions for Travelling with a Disability

Let’s be honest, as fun as vacations are, travelling is stressful. The planning, packing, confirming all the details, getting from A to B, preparing to be away from work or home, keeping paperwork organized…it takes a significant amount of time and effort to put a trip together.   Yet, if you have a disability, travelling becomes even more complicated.

March break is approaching and for months my clients have been asking me about travelling with a disability.  I enjoy these discussions because I do believe that anything is possible – take a look at our latest OT-V episode all about accessible travel including tips for travelling with a disability.

Bonus—download our free Accessible Travel booklet which includes helpful checklists and tips for your travel!

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Concussions and Football – Can New Technology Reduce the Impact?

Care of some amazing technology we’re now able to see the direct effect of a football concussion.  In this example, shared by the New York Times, a football player was wearing a mouth guard equipped with motion sensors that enabled researchers to see what was happening inside his brain at the time of impact.  Researchers are using this data to help create better safety equipment and helmets for players who risk a lifetime of head injuries and their damaging effects.

Be sure to watch the video of the effects on the player’s brain and learn more from the New York Times.

The New York Times:  What Happened Within This Player’s Skull

To learn more about the dangerous effects of head injury from football check out our previous post:  I Always Called it Dumb-Ball.