Aquatic Therapy Benefits People with Parkinson’s Disease

Aquatic therapy vs conventional land-based therapy: an open-label pilot study

By Vivas J, Arias P, Cudeiro J., Neuroscience and Motor Control Group (NEUROcom), Department of Physical Therapy, University of A Coruña, A Coruña, Spain, August 2011

Researchers from Spain have study the correlation between aquatic therapy and Parkinson’s Disease, and the outcomes have been nothing short of remarkable.

The aim of this pilot study is to assess and compare two different protocols of physiotherapy (land or aquatic therapy) for people with Parkinson’s disease, focused on postural stability and self-movement, and to provide methodological information regarding progression within the program for a future larger trial.

Eleven outpatients individuals, from the Parkinson’s disease Center of Ferrol-Galicia (Spain), with stages 2 or 3 Parkinson’s disease, completed the investigation.

After baseline evaluations, participants were randomly assigned to a land-based therapy (active control group) or a water-based therapy (experimental group).
Participants underwent individual sessions for 4 weeks, twice a week, for 45 minutes per session.
Both interventions were matched in terms of exercise features, which were structured in stages with clear objectives and progression criteria to pass to the next phase.

Participants underwent a first baseline assessment, a posttest immediately after 4 weeks of intervention, and a follow-up assessment after 17 days. Evaluations were performed OFF-dose after withholding medication for 12 hours. Functional assessments included:

  • Functional Reach Test (FRT)
  • Berg Balance Scale (BBS)
  • Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS)
  • 5-m Talk Test
  • Timed Up and Go Test

A main effect of both therapies was seen for the Functional Reach Test. Only the aquatic therapy group improved in the Berg Balance Scale and the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS).

In this pilot study, physiotherapy protocols produced improvement in postural stability in Parkinson’s disease that was significantly larger after aquatic therapy. The intervention protocols are shown to be feasible and seem to be of value in amelioration of postural stability-related impairments in Parkinson’s disease.

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Copyright © 2011 American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.