How Pool Therapy Can Benefit Our Veterans
There are several programs currently in place to assist veterans with physical or mental needs. Veterans deserve the best of care, and it is our duty to provide for them after they have sacrificed so bravely for us.
However, we may be overlooking something that could be the most beneficial to those who have served: pool therapy.
What Is Pool Therapy?
Pool therapy is a method in which a person uses a pool or other body of water to exercise their mind and body.
With pool therapy, one can participate in a wide range of activity, from water sports to water meditation, all with minimal physical impact.
Water provides excellent resistance, which trains the muscles of a human body to grow stronger as it tries to adapt to that resistance.
At times, traditional aerobic exercises like running, dancing, boxing, and others can cause an unnecessary amount of tension in your bones and joints.
When doing high-impact activities like jumping, your risk for problems like stress fractures and joint pain increase dramatically.
This means that traditional exercising is often not an option for folks who have sustained war injuries.
Pool therapy gives your muscles and cardiovascular system a workout without risking further injury to other parts of the body. Also, many times as the body ages, the types of exercises or the amount of weight one can work with decrease. In pool therapy, patients can often do exercises that would otherwise be impossible for them to attempt on dry land.
How Veterans Can Benefit
Veterans, especially those who have been injured, are often inhibited by pain.
The “anti-gravity” effect of water, called buoyancy, actually decreases pain due to something called hydrostatic pressure.
Hydrostatic pressure puts a certain amount of tension on all parts of the body equally, thus alleviating variances in pressure which can cause pain in specific parts of the body. This, in turn, can increase a person’s range of motion and flexibility. Buoyancy and hydrostatic pressure simply boil down to more exercises being physically possible for a weak body.
This means that strength can be attained and built up in the water until one has enough capacity to do more land exercises.
Aside from the many physical benefits, water itself can be very mentally therapeutic.
The sound of water being moved and splashed about can cause the brain to release dopamine, which will result in a person experiencing a calm, happy sensation.
Water therapy has been linked to an overall reduction in stress levels, and a greater sense of well-being. When stress is reduced, an individual generally has much more success in getting the proper amount of quality sleep, which then reduces stress levels even more.
As that positive cycle continues, mental clarity will increase and feeling foggy-brained, and even forgetfulness will decrease.
In addition to those benefits, patients who undergo some type of water/pool therapy have reported a decrease in depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and suicidal thoughts, which all often accompany veterans experiencing PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Pool therapy is truly the next wave in healing our veterans.