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AquaHab Physical Therapy Case Study Reveals Advantages of Aquatic Therapy for Osteoporosis Symptoms

Les Littman of AquaHab Physical Therapy Presents Osteoporosis Case Study Results Demonstrating Effectiveness of Combined Aquatic Therapy and Physical Therapy Program

(Cherry Hill, N.J.,)  – A new AquaHab Physical Therapy case study illustrates the benefits of aquatic therapy and physical therapy for osteoporosis symptoms, based on patient results documented by the Greater Philadelphia physical therapy practice. These findings validate previous research studies highlighting the advantages of aquatic therapy for patients with osteoporosis.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, resulting in porous, fragile bones and an increased susceptibility to fractures, especially in the spine, hip, and wrist. Individuals with osteoporosis can suffer broken bones from minor falls, bumping into furniture or even sneezing. In the United States alone, it is estimated that 10 million individuals currently suffer from osteoporosis, while nearly 34 million more people are estimated to have low bone density that puts them at increased risk for the disease.(1)

A number of studies have documented the advantages of aquatic therapy for osteoporosis symptoms. In one clinical trial conducted in Canada, researchers reported, “Significant improvements in balance and global change suggest that [aquatic exercise] is a viable alternative for older women with [osteoporosis] who have difficulty exercising on land.”(2) Another randomized, controlled trial from Australia found that aquatic therapy “resulted in less pain and joint stiffness, and greater physical function, quality of life, and muscle strength.(3)

Les Littman, President and CEO of AquaHab, LP, reports that osteoporosis patients at the practice’s clinics have achieved measurable results from a combined aquatic and physical therapy program. He cites a recent case study demonstrating the effectiveness of aquatic therapy for an 80-year-old female patient with osteoporosis, who suffered a right hip fracture as a result of the disease.

The subject of the AquaHab Physical Therapy case study was first diagnosed with osteoporosis in 2006 and had previously tried in-patient and home-based physical therapy treatment. Her complaints included constant back and hip pain that increased with activity, as well as weakness and shortness of breath with any physical exertion. She reported difficulty with walking long distances and standing for extended periods of time, and even found it a struggle to wash dishes at her kitchen sink.

Her treatment plan included skilled aquatic physical therapy three times per week for four weeks, along with land-based physical therapy exercises. The treatments involved a series of exercises performed in a shallow 93 degree pool and an 85 degree deep water pool at the clinic’s aquatic physical therapy center; they included deep-water walking and trunk stabilization exercises for cardiovascular conditioning as well as shallow-water exercises focused on improving the patient’s strength, endurance, flexibility, and range of motion. Her land-based physical therapy encompassed weight-bearing exercises to improve her strength and increase bone-density.

Upon completion of her treatment program, the patient exhibited improved strength, gait pattern, gait tolerance, and standing tolerance. She also reported a decrease in pain intensity and frequency, and demonstrated understanding and independence in her individual exercise program, including treadmill, weight machines, and shallow-water therapeutic exercises. With regard to her initial concerns, the patient noted that after treatment she is now able to wash dishes at the sink without pain or fatigue, as well as walk community distances and stand for more than an hour without fatigue.

“Our experience has shown that an aquatic physical therapy program, in combination with land-based physical therapy, can address many of the symptoms encountered by osteoporosis sufferers,” said Littman. “Exercising in water is especially beneficial to those with osteoporosis, as it allows them to increase strength and improve balance without the risk of falls or injury that can occur with traditional land-based exercises. Water-based therapy also reduces pain by minimizing weight-bearing forces on bones and joints. A qualified physical therapist can develop a comprehensive treatment program that combines both aquatic and land-based exercises, enabling patients to resume regular activities and exercise once they’ve built up their strength and endurance.”

Littman advises individuals with osteoporosis – as well as anyone experiencing pain, weakness, fatigue, or balance and coordination issues – to schedule a physical therapy evaluation to determine the best course of treatment. Those seeking an aquatic physical therapy clinic in Philadelphia or neighboring suburbs will find a full spectrum of rehabilitative services at AquaHab Physical Therapy. New patients may request a free consultation at any of AquaHab’s four clinics, as well as a free tour of the facilities. To schedule a comprehensive screening, prospective patients may submit an information request online or call the nearest clinic: Northeast Philadelphia –  215-677-0400, ext. 1122; Bala Cynwyd –  610-664-6464, ext. 1308; Jenkintown –  215-887-8787, ext. 1418; or Cherry Hill, N.J. –  856-751-8899, ext. 1225.

To learn more about AquaHab Physical Therapy – including available aquatic and land-based physical therapy services – visit www.aquahab.com.

About AquaHab Physical Therapy
Founded in 1991, AquaHab Physical Therapy is a service-driven business offering a full range of aquatic and land therapies. The practice employs an experienced and highly trained clinical team of licensed physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, registered/licensed occupational therapists, and registered dieticians. In addition to rehabilitative services, AquaHab Physical Therapy provides total wellness solutions in partnership with its sister company, AFC Fitness. Both organizations share state-of-the-art facilities at four locations in the Greater Philadelphia area, including Northeast Philadelphia, Bala Cynwyd, and Jenkintown, Pa., as well as Cherry Hill, N.J. For more information, visit http://www.aquahab.com or call  866-577-3422.

1 National Osteoporosis Foundation. Content from website: “About Osteoporosis: Fast Facts” <http://www.nof.org/node/40>
2 Arnold, Cathy M. et al. “A Randomized Clinical Trial of Aquatic versus Land Exercise to Improve Balance, Function, and Quality of Life in Older Women with Osteoporosis.” Physiotherapy Canada. Fall 2008; 60(4):296-306. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20145763>
3 Hinman, Rana S.; Sophie E. Heywood and Anthony R. Day. “Aquatic Physical Therapy for Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis: Results of a Single-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial.” Physical Therapy. January 2007; 87(1): 32-43. <http://physther.org/content/87/1/32.full>


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