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Aquatic Therapy: A Viable Option for Obstetric Patients with Back Pain

Cynthia Neville, PT, DPT, WCS, BCB-PMD

July 3, 2013

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Question

I do refer patients for follow-up visits for massage therapy, but some of my patients have also asked about water therapy as an additional form of exercise.  What is your opinion about that?

 

Answer

Aquatic therapy is absolutely excellent for pregnant patients.  If you have a pool in your clinic, you can go to that right away. Oftentimes, that is a great place to start for someone who has severe pain.  There is good support for water aerobic exercise for women in pregnancy.  It helps with swelling in the extremities.  It makes women feel light because on land they feel can heavy.  I live in Florida.  My first child was born at the end of June.  I was a human furnace, and I could not get cold until I submerged in the water.  

 

There are lots of great reasons to recommend aquatic exercise.  It is absolutely a great way to go with these patients.  It is so important that you make sure that they are drinking a lot of water, because they get dehydrated, and they cannot tell because they are in the water.  So, make sure that you are monitoring her fluid intake. Absolutely go for it with your healthy pregnant patients, but when patients have other issues, if there is hypertension or other illnesses, then we need to work very closely with the physician in how we are prescribing and monitoring exercise.  But, your healthy pregnant patient with back pain absolutely can get into the pool.

 


cynthia neville

Cynthia Neville, PT, DPT, WCS, BCB-PMD

Dr. Cynthia (Cindy) Neville, PT, DPT, WCS is Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy, Mayo Clinic Alix College of Medicine, in Jacksonville, Florida. She is a Women’s Health Certified Specialist (WCS), board certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. She serves on the faculty of the Mayo Clinic Florida Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency Program, and advises multiple medical specialty programs at Mayo Clinic Florida. Her outpatient clinical practice at Mayo Clinic Florida serves women and men with pelvic floor disorders. Dr. Neville has authored and co-authored several research articles and book chapters on the topics of pelvic health rehabilitation, pelvic pain, and urinary incontinence. She has presented her research and provided rehabilitation and medical education nationally and internationally. She has developed successful Pelvic and Women’s Health Rehabilitation Programs at premier healthcare organizations including the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (now the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab) and Mayo Clinic Florida. At Brooks Rehabilitation in Jacksonville, Dr. Neville developed the first institutional pelvic health rehabilitation program across all levels of care, and the first credentialed physical therapy women’s health residency program in the state of Florida. She has trained more than a thousand physical therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapist assistants, and physicians in pelvic floor examination and pelvic health rehabilitation. 


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Editor's Note: Regarding Pennsylvania credits, this course is approved by the PA State Board of Physical Therapy for 1 hour of general and 1 hour of Direct Access CE credit.

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