Before the first session of Watsu, pain was assessed on the visual – analog scale (VAS) as level 2 out of how many levels?. It was located mainly in the lumbar spine and remained regardless of the change of position. Before the therapy started every second day the participant regularly had taken pain killers which were available from a pharmacy. The first pain evaluation was made on a day when the client took pain pills. After finishing a series of Watsu sessions, the pain still was assessed at level 2, but taking painkillers was not necessary. Throughout the study period the participant did not take a single tablet. The pain, however, did not change its location.
Impact on Autonomic Nervous System
The impact of Watsu therapy on the autonomic nervous system was assessed by measuring heart rate and blood pressure before and after each session (i.e., before entering and again after leaving the changing room at the swimming pool).
The average value of heart rate measured before each session of Watsu was 93 beats / min. and after the session 87 beats / min.
The difference between the highest and the lowest heart rate measured before the sessions was 18.
The decrease from the maximum heart rate to a minimum level immediately after the Watsu sessions was larger and equaled 23.
After seven out of the eight sessions, the final heart rate was lower than the initial one. The biggest difference between the initial and the final heart rate was evident on the third day, when it equaled 14.
Figure 1 illustrates how the pulse was shaped each day after therapy. For both measurements before and after the sessions, heart rate did not decrease linearly. During 8 sessions only once was the final heart rate higher than at the beginning. It can be influenced by the weather which improved during the study period and the conditions at the pool during the session which included noise from other people in the water.
Figure 1. Pulse rate before and after each session of Watsu.
Figure 2 shows the systolic blood pressure measured before and after each session of Watsu. As it indicates, during the first six days the final pressure is lower than the initial one, and the last two rates are as high as the blood pressure measured before the session. The average systolic blood pressure measured before the session was close to 114.5 mmHg, and the final 107 mmHg. The difference between the maximum and the minimum initial pressure in the series was 27, while the maximum difference in final systolic pressure was equal to 13.
Figure 2. Systolic blood pressure measured before and after each session of Watsu.
As far as diastolic blood pressure measured both before and after the session is concerned, it does not change so much as a systolic blood pressure. After the session it is lower than before the session, but it occurs (the first and fourth day) that it is higher than the initial value. From the fifth session a regular decrease in both diastolic pressures is noticeable. The minimum diastolic blood pressure was recorded after the last, eighth session, and was 60 mmHg, while the maximum, on the fifth day during the first measurement and was equal to 84 mmHg. The average diastolic blood pressure, before the session was 76 mmHg, and after 73.5 mmHg.
Impact on Gait
The third parameter showing the effect of Watsu therapy on a high postural tone was gait, which was tested thanks to the analysis of temporal, kinematic and length variables. This type of movement was characteristic only for the participant. It was possible to distinguish one full cycle of gait and compare it before and after Watsu therapy. The analysis of temporal measures of gait revealed that the most noticeable changes were those which referred to the proportions between the various stages of walking tested before the first Watsu session and after the therapy sessions. In the final session the stance phase in both limbs was shortened, while the response phase lasted longer than in the first session. In addition, %-cycle dual- stance phase of a left lower limb was reduced from 87 to 72.3, which may confirm a subjective visual impression of greater smoothness in gait during the final session. A smoother motion may be a result of the changes in the measures of length.
It is worthwhile to stress that the length of the step increased from 0.09m to 0.13m. This change indicated an increase in the base of support on the surface and may have influenced the stability of gait. Average walking speed in the first session was 0.18 m / s, while in the final session it was about 0.3 m / s greater. Gait was also analyzed in terms of kinematics which registered increased ranges of motion of the pelvis and hip joints in the sagittal, coronal and transverse planes of movement. After comparing the results of the study before and after Watsu sessions, the changes are visible mainly in the rotational movements of the pelvis. A gradual reduction of 4 internal
rotation of the pelvis on the left side of the lower limb in the early stance phase is noticeable. The results of other ranges of motion (the pelvis in the sagittal plane, frontal and hip in the frontal, sagittal and transverse) did not differ between the first and second examination.