Why an Underwater Treadmill?
It has been long known that the use of water in a patients recovery is beneficial in many ways:
- The pressure of the water eases pain and moves inflammation out of the tissues
- The buoyancy aids balanced weight bearing and correct movement and use of the body
- The temperature of the water increases circulation bringing nutrients and oxygen to areas of the body and relieves congestion within the tissues by flushing out cellular waste
- The movement of the water creates small muscle contractions within the muscles which aids muscular development
- The resistance of walking in the water helps to build muscle strength, stamina and mass
- The biomechanics of walking in the water gently aids the muscles by encouraging movement and increased range of motion through the joints and areas that are painful
Bringing all of the above benefits of water into an environment like an underwater treadmill allows for cutting edge rehabilitation to be undertaken in a safe and controlled manner.
Underwater Treadmills are quickly becoming the preferred hydrotherapy tool for the serious rehabilitation therapist. They offer the therapist opportunity to manage a wider range of patients (orthopaedic, neurological and soft tissue) safely; at an earlier stage of their recovery in a more controlled manner with less stress and anxiety developing in the patient as their feet are on a firm surface. This confidence in their stability reduces their need to over reach and inadvertently cause micro tears within the soft tissues .
The design of the treadmill allows us to manage the water height, speed of movement, degree of flexion and extension within various joints in the body. It also provides the therapist with a different access point to the patients limbs so that we can assist and encourage correct movement when needed and allows us to target the muscles that help promote mobility and postural stabilisation in the body.
The engagement that their feet and limbs have with the moving belt enhances movement patterns in the neurological system, increases the body’s awareness of where its limbs are, allows us to gently load weight into the limbs (which is necessary for bone and tissue healing) and enables a wider range of specialised hydro-exercises to be applied by the therapist.
Certain rehab techniques and physiological responses can only be achieved when the feet are on a firm, stable, level surface. All of our treadmill patients benefit from our ability to blend physiotherapy, massage and limb loading techniques into the water which allows for more stability and support for the weaker patients.
Barney, post spinal surgery learning how to walk again
Oakley undertaking some flexibility and limb loading exercises
Freddie having treatment for his luxating patellas