Hydrotherapy After Stroke
Health Guide September 14, 2006
I just returned from a trip to my home state of Oklahoma. I was honored to be a bridesmaid in the wedding of one of my dearest friends from high school. The wedding went well and my friend was absolutely beautiful!
The trip home for the wedding also allowed me some unexpected time with my family. Probably the person most excited about my trip home, (other than my mother, of course), was my 6-year-old niece. She always has a specific itinerary for us to follow. It usually involves swimming (in season), a spa night, a visit to the park, playing dolls, a computer game or two and a soak in the hot tub. We rarely get it all in. But this past weekend, we did get to the computer games and the hot tub.
The hot tub was very relaxing and I realized after my last blog, that the hot tub doesn’t have to be “hot.” In fact, since my niece loves the hot tub so much, my brother keeps it at around 95 degrees, so it’s safe for her.
Also at this temperature, a hot tub can become a great tool in in-home post-stroke rehabilitation. A stroke can cause weakness or paralysis in one side of the body and problems with balance or co-ordination. So, doing some exercises on land can be scary for some patients. But in hydrotherapy or physiotherapy, patients can feel more confident and free. That’s because of the buoyancy of water. Being in water provides support because your body doesn’t feel so heavy and if you have weak limbs, they may be easier to move. It’s also easier to keep your balance and possibly stand in the warm water, especially in a warm pool. According to Mayo Clinic, a workout in the water has tremendous benefits including aerobic fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and better balance and it's the water which makes the benefits achievable.
Physiotherapy begins soon after a stroke, at home or in a hospital. This type of therapy helps to regain as much mobility and muscle control as possible. If the person cannot move, the therapist first makes sure they are correctly positioned in their bed and changes their position regularly to stop their muscles and joints from getting stiff. As the therapy continues and the patient improves, a doctor may suggest hydrotherapy. In fact, some hospitals even have warm pools built inside them for this purpose.
There are some things to remember though. Do not stay in the warm water more than 15 to 20 minutes. If you have high blood pressure or cardiovascular problems, don’t stay in long enough to raise your body temperature.
Some medical conditions can be aggravated by hydrotherapy. That’s why it is a good idea to seek the advice of a health care professional prior to beginning hydrotherapy at home.
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