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Water Heals: The Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

With aquatic therapy, patients at Northern Arizona Healthcare’s EntireCare Rehab & Sports Medicine are finding pain relief and relaxation in a warm water therapeutic pool.
Aquatic therapy is an increasingly popular treatment method for patients who cannot tolerate land-based exercise and/or who must use care with weight-bearing activity for any reason. It also helps with pre-operative conditioning before joint replacement surgery and pain during cancer treatment or recovery. It can relieve symptoms of fibromyalgia, chronic pain, cardiopulmonary issues, pregnancy discomfort and rheumatologic problems.
The force of gravity weakens in water, which means less compression on the spine and joints. The body’s buoyancy makes it easier to move, while the water’s resistance – much greater than air – helps build muscular strength. In addition, its 95-degree temperature helps circulation and lymphatic flow throughout the body.
The unique benefits of aquatic therapy also include:
• Increased joint flexibility and mobility.
• Improved balance. Uniform pressure from the water against the body allows increased time to react without fear of falling or getting hurt.
• Safe environment for neurologic patients to explore movement with skilled guidance.
• Better general functioning and quality of life.
At the EntireCare pool, we offer:
• Core stabilization exercises.
• Bad Ragaz method: patients lie horizontally in the water for therapist-assisted strengthening and mobilization; using floats or rings to support joints.
• Watsu technique: this Japanese form of water massage, performed by a certified Watsu instructor, features movements and stretches connected with breath while patient is held or floats. This can induce a deep state of relaxation and is beneficial for people with decreased range of motion and chronic pain conditions.
• Ai Chi technique: a graceful form of aquatic exercise combining Tai Chi and Qi Gong concepts in the water. It helps improve balance and range of motion while offering stress relief and improved postural awareness.
• Halliwick method: active and passive therapy in the water helps improve postural and balance control, swimming skills and independence.
A physical, occupational or massage therapist specially trained in aquatic techniques provides all therapies. Therapists offer hands-on treatments, including massage and stretching, in the pool. Depending on the patient’s individual needs, therapists may also use specialized equipment to add more buoyancy and resistance.
Patients can expect one-on-one individualized attention to maximize their potential in the water as well on land.
Patients who wish to continue in the pool long-term may attend a community-based, instructor-led aquatic exercise class available many times a week.
The pool, equipped with stairs and a hydraulic lift, is accessible to all patients, regardless of mobility. There is no age limit or restriction, and patients with private insurance may self-refer. Patients insured by Medicare or AHCCCS need a referral from a healthcare provider. FBN

EntireCare Experts
The therapists and specialists at Northern Arizona Healthcare’s EntireCare Rehab & Sports Medicine have education and hands-on experience enabling them to provide comprehensive, individualized treatment plans and therapies.
Each specific type of therapy − occupational, physical, hand and speech − is considered a specialty, and plays an important role in the rehabilitation process. The EntireCare team functions as a cohesive unit, where all members share information and knowledge. The ultimate goal is the patient’s improvement and return to the highest possible functioning level.
Choosing EntireCare means patients also have access to a myriad of additional services, such as advanced facilities, technology and equipment.

• Flagstaff Medical Center: 1215 N. Beaver St. To make an appointment, call 928-773-2125.
• East Flagstaff: 7810 N. Hwy. 89, Suite 280 (in the Elden Ridge Business Centre next to Subway). To make an appointment, call 928-773-2125.
• Verde Valley Medical Center: 269 S. Candy Lane, Cottonwood. To make an appointment, call 928-639-6383.
• Camp Verde: 1298 W. Finnie Flat Rd., Camp Verde. To make an appointment, call 928-639-5562.
• Sedona Clinic: 35 Dry Creek Rd., Ste. 4, Sedona. To make an appointment, call 928-282-6775.
• Village of Oak Creek Clinic: 6560 Hwy. 179, Ste. 118, Sedona. To make an appointment, call 928-282-8428.

Hope Reece, P.T., M.P.T, is a physical therapist with Northern Arizona Healthcare’s EntireCare Rehab & Sports Medicine department. She is located at Flagstaff Medical Center. Hope has been working in the field of physical therapy since 1992. She specializes in manual, hands-on therapy, dry needling, aquatic therapy and Pilates-based exercises in her sessions. She received an undergraduate degree in health and human services from Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colo. She earned a master’s degree in physical therapy from Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff.
Northern Arizona Healthcare is creating healthier communities by providing wellness, prevention and medical care through Flagstaff Medical Center, Verde Valley Medical Center, Verde Valley Medical Center – Sedona Campus, Northern Arizona Healthcare – Camp Verde Campus, Northern Arizona Healthcare Medical Group – Flagstaff, Verde Valley Medical Clinic, the Cancer Centers of Northern Arizona Healthcare, Northern Arizona Healthcare Orthopedic Surgery Center, EntireCare Rehab & Sports Medicine, the Bariatric Surgical Weight Loss Clinic, the Heart & Vascular Center of Northern Arizona, the Sleep & Pulmonary Center, BeWellNow, Guardian Air and Guardian Medical Transport. We also provide comprehensive imaging, laboratory and pharmacy services throughout the region. Many of the services we provide including Fit Kids of Arizona, The Taylor House and Valley View Care, receive major funding through the NAH Foundation.

For more information on Northern Arizona Healthcare programs and services, visit NAHealth.com. “Like” NAH at Facebook.com/NorthernArizonaHealthcare.

By Hope Reece, P.T., M.P.T.

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