PARKINSON’S DISEASE: Improve your balance in the water

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a progressive neurological disorder that affects your movement. Common symptoms include tremor, slow movement (bradykinesia), postural imbalance, and slurred speech. The combination of these symptoms can ultimately affect one’s strength, balance and endurance, thereby reducing the quality of life in individuals.

Currently, evidence suggests that aerobic and strength training programs improves the quality of life of people with PD. It has been used as a key component of PD rehabilitation. Evidence also supports the use of hydrotherapy as a form of exercise that provide similar benefits to conventional exercise in PD.

Hydrotherapy offers an alternate method of rehabilitation through its advantages mentioned below:

Temperature: Warm temperatures of water can facilitate loosening/relaxation of muscles and joint, reducing pain and stiffness.

Buoyancy: The buoyancy of the water offloads weight-bearing, making it easier to put move limbs and perform functional tasks such as walking, squatting, standing.

Viscosity: There will be a natural resistance felt against movements through the water, which can facilitate muscle strengthening.

In individuals with PD, these features of hydrotherapy allow for increased confidence and safety to exercise compared to land exercises. A systematic review in 2019 analysed the effects of hydrotherapy vs land based exercise in patients with PD.

Exercising 2-3 times/week in the water was shown to improve balance, fear of falling, and quality of life when compared to land exercises (walking, cycling, stretching, strengthening exercises).

If you know of someone with PD, you can tell them all about the positive effects of hydrotherapy. If you would like to know more, please feel free to give us a call and chat to one of our physiotherapists.

References

Cugusi, L. et. al. (2019). Aquatic exercise improves motor impairments in people with Parkinson’s disease, with similar or greater benefits than land-based exercise: a systematic review. Journal of Physiotherapy, 65(2), p. 65-74. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jphys.2019.02.003

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