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Aquatic Therapy and Parkinson's Disease (research review)

December 5, 2017

*Study demonstrates that people with Parkinson's Disease had significantly improved postural stability after aquatic physical therapy when compared to land-based therapy. 

11 participants with Parkinson's Disease were randomized to receive either land-based physiotherapy or aquatic physical therapy (45 min sessions x 4 weeks). Both interventions were matched for exercise protocols consisting of 4 sections of exercises (trunk, pelvis, lower extremities, upper extremities). Protocols focused on warm-up, trunk mobility, balance training-postural stability, task-oriented exercise- transferring oneself and changing body positions.

Outcomes examined included measures of functional balance (Functional Reach Test), static balance (Berg Balance Scale), disease specific functional impairments (Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale), gait speed (5m walk test) and functional mobility (Timed up and Go).

The study demonstrated that both therapies were effective at improving functional balance, but only the aquatic therapy group improved their static balance and disease specific functional impairments. 

Aquatic Therapy Vs. Conventional Land-Based Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease: An Open-Label Pilot Study. Vivas J, Arias P, Cudeiro J. Archives of Physical Medicine Rehabilitation 2011: 92: 1202-10.