POOL THERAPY FOR MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS PATIENTS
By Marlee Moore, Exercise/Aquatic Therapist
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a condition that weakens muscles and movements over time. Thus, strength training early and often is one of the key ways to keeping the muscles from weakening. However, this can be understandably difficult for someone who has difficulty walking, picking up a fork to eat or simply waving hello.
For people with Multiple Sclerosis, a warm pool can be a place for them to more easily build lean muscle mass than would ever be possible on land. Even if they cannot walk down the street comfortably or safely, they can walk in the water without fear. Not only are they protected by the innate buoyancy of the water, but they are given a psychological boost because they aren’t afraid to fall.
In a case study that was recently done in Great Britain, a woman with Multiple Sclerosis was treated in a therapy pool. She had complained of progressive weakness in her upper and lower left limbs during a (roughly) two-year period. She had to walk with a cane, and tended to favor one of her legs over the other. This was causing serious gait problems. For the woman, improved mobility was a goal of her water-based rehabilitation. In conjunction with limited land-based activities, the water was used for gait re-education and related exercises. Her physiotherapist planned a treatment schedule that included backward and forward walking, as well as squatting. An underwater video camera provided instant biofeedback as her therapy progressed, and adjustments could be made in the moment. Over a three-week period, she was constantly measured to pinpoint whether or not the pool therapy was working. At the end of her treatment, she was able to stand and function more symmetrically on land, which reduced her need to rely on any kind of assistive devices.
When looking at the advances this woman made after only 21 days, it’s exciting to think about what could potentially happen for those struggling with MS. Using Aquatic Therapy and the water to assist in delaying symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis could not only help improve their strength & strides, but overall wellbeing.
If you have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis or any movement disorder, why not see what the benefits of Aquatic Therapy and the water could do for you? Please contact Proactive Rehab, 705-788-1480 to book your assessment and to start your Aquatic Therapy journey to recovery.