An Alternative Therapy for Stroke

REHAB INSIDER • January 2017 Vol.1 No.1

An Alternative Therapy for Stroke Could an aquatic environment create the same results as other gait training methods? R In this article: ehab professionals are more than familiar with the impacts of stroke — and the most common treatment plans. While the aftermath of a stroke clearly varies from patient to patient, the typical treatment plans are somewhat static. Speech-language pathologists will use aphasia-centric methods; occupational therapists will help with meal preparation or home navigation; physical therapists will turn to gait training. But could there be an alternative to the popular treadmill-assisted gait training for these unique patients? Though yet to take the lead in stroke therapy options, aquatic therapy holds much promise. Unlike traditional gait • Research into aquatic therapy for stroke rehab is still in its infancy • Treadmill training increases walking velocity and endurance following stroke • Researchers are examining aquatic rehab in comparison to traditional gait training training, this alternative is low impact, less stressful on joints, safer and often more enjoyable for patients. A warm-water pool enables patients to move with more ease, increasing flexibility while decreasing muscle strain, and even stroke patients who are unable to stand on land may have success with aquatic therapy.1 Yet it seems logical to expect that the traditional route may hold more promise. After all, aquatic therapy isn’t new — variations of the technique date back thousands of years — and it still isn’t a preferred treatment for stroke patients. So why is aquatic therapy so frequently overlooked for these patients? Lack of Research Largely, the reluctance of physical therapists to use this technique for stroke Sarah Sutherland is on staff at REHAB INSIDER. Contact: ssutherland@advanceweb.com JANUARY 2017  |  REHAB INSIDER AQUATIC STUDY Ithaca College student Nick Adams works with a patient enrolled in a study to quantify the benefits of aquatic gait training in relation to other forms of therapy. (courtesy Ithaca College) aquatic r 24 ehabilitation


REHAB INSIDER • January 2017 Vol.1 No.1
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