OSF St. Joseph Medical Center

Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic therapy relies on the unique physical properties of water to enhance rehabilitation. Physical properties include buoyancy, relative density, hydrostatic pressure, viscosity, and surface tension. Aquatic therapy helps to unload joints, assist or resist movement, and increases lung performance. The purpose of aquatic therapy is to:

  • improve cardiovascular efficiency
  • increase strength and power
  • increase joint range of motion
  • assist in gait training and functional activities
  • reduce pain and muscle spasm
  • increase proprioceptive and kinesthetic awareness

Who Is It For?

Patients who may benefit from aquatic therapy include those experiencing:

  • Weight-bearing limitations
  • Mobility issues
  • Balance/coordination impairments
  • Pain
  • Sensory impairments
  • Tone issues
  • Decreased endurance or cardiovascular function
  • Weakness
  • Significant postural abnormalities
  • Difficulty tolerating land therapy

What Does it Involve?

The aquatic therapy setting is a warm water pool. Exercises are led by a rehabilitation clinician under the guidance of a Physical Therapist, using various pool equipment as appropriate. Exercises include:

  • General stretching exercises
  • Strengthening activities
  • Dynamic balance training
  • Spinal stabilization
  • Cardiovascular conditioning

Preparing for Your Therapy

This is not a swim program. Often your head and face will not even get wet with the water exercises.

You will need to bring a clean swimsuit and towel. Please wash your suit out in mild detergent only, no harsh or regular detergents. NO COTTON swimsuits or t-shirts, two piece, Speedos, or cut-offs (denim shorts) allowed. Cotton materials retain soap residue, decrease the clarity of the water, and require extra use of chemicals to keep the water clear.

You may wish to wear sandals when walking in the department. You may be more comfortable wearing aqua or water shoes while in the pool. Water shoes are not mandatory and are not provided. Ask your therapist where you can purchase water shoes, if you are interested.

Do not use lotions, creams, deodorant, or oils prior to your pool exercise treatments.

Women must use a tampon if menstruating. No external pads for any reason.

You should arrive 10-15 minutes prior to your appointment time in order to allow enough time to get changed. Your treatment session may be scheduled for 30-45 minutes.

Scheduling an Appointment

Aquatic therapy sessions are limited. Please call (309) 661-6260 to schedule an evaluation with a therapist.

Failure to show up for two scheduled therapy sessions may result in discharge from our services.