Whether you are just returning from active duty or have been discharged for a while and are still coping with the effects of your service, aquatic therapy has the potential to benefit you. You may have returned from combat with multiple health issues, mental as well as physical. The advantages of aquatic therapy for healing your body have been well-known for some time, but research has also shown it to benefit your mind as well, and at the same time. Here are some of the specific advantages that aquatic therapy has to offer veterans.
1. Soothe PTSD Symptoms
The opportunity for release from your constant fight-or-flight state could potentially justify the in ground pool cost of having one installed. Floating in the water and the sound of the waves triggers the release of a brain chemical called dopamine. Because of dopamine's calming effect on the mind, it can soothe PTSD symptoms at the same time that you are also helping with your physical complaints. This effect is produced without the need for medication.
2. Address Multiple Physical Issues
As a whole-body workout, aquatic therapy can also help with multiple physical issues at the same time. Your legs and arms see some benefit even while you are rehabilitating a back injury or surgery with aquatic therapy. Because of the mind-body benefits of water therapy, doctors sometimes recommend it instead of another alternative treatment, such as yoga, that is impractical because of mobility challenges or physical limitations.
3. Shorten the Length of Therapy
When recovering from an injury or surgery, it can be frustrating to have to go to physical therapy for weeks or months and not see any measurable improvement. Aquatic therapy is not guaranteed to work faster or more effectively than traditional physical therapy. Nevertheless, doctors may recommend it to veterans requiring surgery as a potentially shorter rehabilitation option. Bear in mind that the improvement that you see from aquatic therapy depends on your level of commitment to putting in the work required.
4. Gain Balance and Confidence
Adjusting to a new physical handicap sustained in combat can be a challenge in any circumstance. You have to learn new ways to accomplish basic tasks you have been performing all your life. Aquatic therapy can help with this process of retraining in various ways. The buoyancy of the water supports your body and prevents you from falling while you are gaining understanding of your body movements. As you become more proficient at navigating in the water, your confidence increases. This new level of confidence can only help you as you begin rehabilitation on land.
5. Relieve Pain and Pressure
Because of the support that the water provides your body, you may be able to perform exercises in the water that you wouldn't be able to do on land. If you have arthritis, aquatic therapy can be particularly beneficial because it is low-impact and does not put any extra stress on your joints.
Water therapy can help you to relax. Releasing tension in your muscles can help relieve bodily pain as well as mental pressure that could be contributing to stress-related health issues.
6. Improve Strength
Despite not putting stress on your joints, aquatic therapy can be very effective at strengthening muscles that may be atrophied from a long recovery following an injury or surgery. Though the water supports you and makes you feel weightless, it puts up resistance as you move through it. Overcoming the resistance forces your muscles to work, which in turn helps to build them up and make them stronger.
Not everyone can benefit from aquatic therapy. Even if it does offer advantages to you, it is a process that takes some getting used to. It is not a magical cure, and it may take some time before you start seeing any improvement. Finding a qualified therapist with a good reputation and following his or her instructions as closely as possible is your best chance for success in both the short and long term.
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