Monthly Archives: July 2015

Take the plunge with Aquatic Physical Therapy


by Karri Iten, PT, DPT, OCS
Physical Therapist at Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center

Why Try Aquatic Physical Therapy?

Aquatic PT is an excellent option for treating a wide variety of conditions & injuries, including arthritis, total joint replacements, spinal surgery, fractures, and obesity. The primary benefit of aquatic therapy is that it allows for a decrease in body weight due to buoyancy. Other benefits of aquatic therapy are due to the effect of hydrostatic pressure & the resistance of the water.

Buoyancy is the upward force water exerts on an object & it’s this property that allows us to float in a pool. Someone standing hip deep in water has approximately 50% reduction in their body weight. The deeper the water, the more this increases. For people that have pain with standing, or an injury that requires limited weight bearing, aquatic therapy can allow an earlier start to strengthening & normal activities, such as walking & stairs. For stiff joints, this buoyancy can also be used to assist with regaining normal range of motion by letting the water “do the work” to raise the limb instead of relying entirely on weak or painful muscles. We can work against buoyancy to strengthen the muscles, too.

Hydrostatic pressure is the pressure exerted upon an object in a fluid. In the pool, this pressure assists with swelling by providing constant pressure around a joint. It can also help with controlling blood pressure and heart rate because the blood is being assisted back to the heart. Finally, water provides approximately 12 times the resistance of air. This resistance is applied in all directions, unlike with gravity, so you work equally moving out & coming back to the start position. This helps engage multiple muscles at once, especially those that stabilize a joint.

Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center Physical Rehabilitation offers an aquatic therapy program Tuesday & Thursday mornings through a partnership with the Warrenton Aquatic Recreation Facility (WARF). Learn more about Aquatic Water Therapy at or call 540.347.2918 for more information.

BRO-Logo-colorBlue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center is Northern Virginia’s premier facility for diagnosing and treating back pain and spinal disorders. In addition to our regionally renowned Spine Center, our practice features Joint Replacement, Sports Medicine, Pain Management, Physical Therapy, Trauma Center, Shoulder Care, a Hand Center and a Foot and Ankle Center.

We are committed to treating not just injuries and physical ailments, but rather the whole person, by offering a wide range of specialty programs designed to support treatment. Specialty programs include Massage Therapy, Medical Nutrition and Aquatic Physical Therapy.