Aquatic Physical Therapy

Woman and instructor in the pool

Warm Water Therapy Builds a Stronger Body

For those suffering from fibromyalgia, arthritis and low back pain or recovering from an injury or surgery, warm water therapy is a low-impact rehabilitation option that can improve range of motion, balance, strength, coordination and reduce pain.

Water is heated to an average of 90 degrees year round. The depth varies from three feet to five-and a-half feet. You do not need to know how to swim to take advantage of warm water therapy and a life guard is always on duty whenever the pool is providing services. A referral from a physician is required to enroll in services at North Central Health Care.

Under the direction of a physician, North Central Health Care’s licensed physical therapist devises a treatment plan using water as both a supporting, gravity-reducing environment and a conditioning medium. The therapist uses the buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure and warmth of the water to relax muscles, support submerged joints, and reduce or eliminate axial weight bearing, resulting in a reduction of pain. With the ability to “float” the patient, the therapist is also able to use positional and ranging techniques that are impossible on land. The therapist can also employ the density and viscosity of the water to provide proprioceptive input for gait and balance training without danger of impact injury from falling, and to introduce exercises to increase range of motion, strengthen muscles and improve cardiovascular conditioning. Upon discharge, the therapist provides each patient with a self-directed exercise program for pool and home use.

Warm water therapy is beneficial because it:

  • Reduces the force of gravity that compresses joints, reducing pain.
  • Relaxes muscles and supports submerged sore joints and limbs.
  • Allows the therapist to use positional and ranging techniques that are impossible on land.
  • Increases circulation and decreases inflammation.
  • Gives resistance based on tolerance.
  • Allows therapists to work on gait and balance without risk of the patient falling.
  • Makes it easier to do exercises to increase range of motion, strengthen muscles and improve cardiovascular conditioning.

Balancing Therapy and Home Life

At North Central Health Care, warm water therapy patients receive individualized care from a licensed physical therapist who works in collaboration with your physician. Upon discharge, the therapist provides each patient with a self-directed exercise program for pool and home use.

Bring the following to your therapy sessions:

  • Swimsuit or shorts and a T-shirt.
  • Water shoes or slip-on shoes for the pool deck and shower room.
  • Towel.
  • Insurance card or workers compensation insurance information.
  • Doctor’s order.
  • List of current medications and over-the-counter vitamins.
  • Dimes for a one-time usage locker; larger lockers available for long-term rent.

The warm water therapeutic pool is located at 1100 Lake View Drive in Wausau and is available to any patients, regardless of their county of residence or age. The facility has handicapped-accessible locker rooms and a wheelchair ramp into the pool.

Download our Aquatic Therapy Brochure.