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2 Phases of Stroke Recovery in the Pool: Deep End to Shallow End

Updated: Jan 13

As my loyal readers know, I am always showcasing stories that show the superior power of performing stroke recovery exercises in the pool. Here is another success story, similar to my Veterans Month post, for the benefits of aquatic, or pool-based, therapy after a stroke.

A 2008 study from Korea used 2 different types of physical therapy following a stroke. The first group received traditional, land-based physical therapy. The other group was treated only with aquatic therapy.

Not surprisingly, the study determined that the group of stroke patients who received aquatic therapy improved significantly more in strength, balance, and knee flexor strength than the conventional physical therapy group.

Cleverly, the Korean study looked at the various effects of both sides of the pool, the shallow end and the deep end. The doctors realized that aquatic therapy has different effects on the body in both the shallow end of the pool, as well as in the deep end. Using their intuition, the doctors discovered that each of these sides of the pool provides different, but complimentary benefits.

In the deep end, the depth of the pool allows the patient to assume a fully upright position, buoyed by the water. In this side of the pool, the patients are able to stretch, perform bicycle kicks, aquatic walk and run in place holding on to the side of the pool. Eventually, with the strength built in the deep end, the patients can transition to the shallow end.

In the shallow end, the patient can use the benefits of aquatic therapy to help transition towards land mobility. In this shallower water, walking is the main way to make the transition to land. Often, the therapist can place underwater obstacles, which help the patient re-learn lateral body movements. All of these exercises use less buoyancy from the water, increasing the patient's ability to balance.

Ultimately, by using both side of the pool, the stroke patients was able to make a better recovery, and transition back to land living with an improved outcome over those who only used land based physical therapy.

Thank you for being a reader of my blog! I wish you a happy holiday season and a joyful new year. See you in 2023!

Sources: quoting Dong Koog Noh et. al., Seoul National University College of Medicine, 2008,

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