Rehabilitation is widely recommended as an effective strategy in the management of peripheral neuropathies, useful to maximize the patients’ physical disability and to maintain their quality of life. Indeed, despite the lack of consistent data about its effect on the functional outcome of neuropathic patients, physical exercise was shown to improve neuropathic symptoms, balance and proprioception.
Aquatic therapy is a rehabilitative approach proposed for different medical conditions: the aquatic environment facilitates patients with functional limitations, who feel a safer setting and are consequently more motivated to the training. The physical properties of water help to improve patient stability and to allow limbs movements, by offloading the body weight, exerting resistance against the body segments and giving proprioceptive inputs. Moreover, the warmth of a physiotherapy pool helps muscle relaxation and seems to reduce pain perception.
Several research articles evaluated aquatic therapy as possible gait and balance training of neurological patients and demonstrated beneficial effects mostly in Parkinson’s disease and stroke. A limited number of studies, even if affected by small sample sizes, made a comparison between aquatic and on-land training, showing best balance results of the former for the same diseases.
Results of these studies conclude that there is no strong evidence for a significant contribution from aquatic therapy, when contrasted with the same time spent in on-land physiotherapy, to an intensive rehabilitative program tailored for patients affected by a peripheral neuropathy.
However the research also concluded that due to the high sense of stability that the water can provide and its effects on pain perception, the water environment could be mostly suitable for the rehabilitation of those neuropathic patients with high fear of falling or pain. In these cases, aquatic therapy could be considered as a strong alternative strategy to the conventional physiotherapy.
PRI is one of the few facilities in Toronto that offers both land and aquatic physiotherapy rehabilitation. To find which one is most suitable for you, please reach out to: