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Aqua Therapy

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    Aqua Therapy

    Spinal injury owner Has anybody had positive results from Aquatherapy, particularly spasticity to start with?

    I did it many years ago and it seemed to do nothing then I tried it about 3 years ago and got a great result in that spasticity went away for a good while.

    Just wondering what people with spinal injuries can say about it as I wonder if I was a one off?

    I'm in the pool 3-4 times per week... walking, swimming and doing weight-bearing leg and core exercises. They consistently account for some of my best workouts of the week and have absolutely helped with spasticity, for me. I'm incomplete c5 - your milage may vary accordingly, but if you have the resources (i.e. a body of water and a safe way to spend some time in it), I say give it another shot.

    *** c4/c5 incomplete *** Injured in Summer 2003 ***


      I think any exercise is good, but swimming has always been near the top of the list.
      "Never turn your back on fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed." - Hunter Thompson
      T5/6 complete


        What pool temp works or doesn’t for you? I really feel like Goldilocks. If it feels even a bit cool, I get an edge of stiffness that makes it harder to move but if I go too hot then MS fatigue kicks in and I turn into a lump of mashed potatoes. I was shocked to get into an 87 degree pool after a year of being at home and feel a chill! The pool I went to a year ago was 85 and I was having occasional stiffness on days it drifted slightly cooler. I think I’m colder now from an additional year of atrophy. The very warm “therapy pools” used to be too warm but I guess I’ll try one again.

        But your functional ability in the water is tremendously increased. I’m a huge fan. It’s rewarding, can provide some socializing. I didn’t start until after I got a Baclofen pump so can’t say about spasticity tho I don’t think I notice anything there except, like I said, a temporary increase if the water is cold.
        Last edited by Sheri; 10 Apr 2021, 9:28 AM.


          Very interesting replies and consistent with the scientific papers.

          My partner has ms and she is very sensitive to temperature but gets great benefit from it. Her core is stiffening up and walk improving after 5 weeks, 2 sessions a week. She loves it. Some days her weakness will be worse, then other days, better than before. But overall result is improvement.

          My spinal multilevel injury responds differently, severe spasticity, 10 years on, was much reduced by a week of 12 sessions, self guided, almost unable to walk getting out of water finally, but able to freely articulate my legs, the instability was reduced as my leg muscles slowly had to improve and they did. The spasticity did rise again after 6 month up to about 50 percent of what it was and 3 years on say 70 percent with no further Aquatherapy because I am in a remote cold region. Until we got enthusiastic and.....

          Anyway, we designed and built a small motorised outdoor Aquatherapy machine with full immersion operating various hand and leg apparatus at blood temperature. Sits in back yard. Have used it in snow conditions while exercising. Professionally developed. Hoping to make it available, runs at about 10 dollars an hour via charities maybe.

          I am not convinced by existing Aquatherapy theory. Something else in the neuroplastic area is happening I believe.


            Ancillary but still related to aquatherapy spasticity…

            Now that I’ve been back in the pool for nearly two months, I’m wondering whether the mere SENSATION of the water is being processed by my MS body as a “noxious stimulus”. I did aquatherapy three times per week for four years post pump and pre covid and loved it. I definitely still love it but kinda think that regardless of temperature, I’m experiencing a temporary uptick in neuropathic pain and spastic tightness. I can barely move my legs out of the water so am still far more functional in the water, but feel myself working against spasticity that I only seemed to notice pre covid if the pool temperature had dipped down on a given day. I was even stiff when I tried a hot therapy pool. Anyone else ever get this?


            • SCI-Nurse
              SCI-Nurse commented
              Editing a comment
              Generally, for people with MS, swimming and aquatherapy should be done in a pool that is less than 85oF. Higher temperatures can cause a pseudoexacerbation; in fact in the old days, MS was often diagnosed by being able to increase the symptoms when the person was put in a hot bath. (KLD)

            • Sheri
              Sheri commented
              Editing a comment
              I don’t get MS fatigue until it’s therapy pool warmth. My current sweet spot seems to be about 88 tho I wish I had a 90 to try out.

              I’m very curious about the actual tactile effect of the water being noxious now. Definitely a new thing for me. Colder water very clearly used to trip the inability to bend or separate my legs, but now it seems like it’s the mere sensation of the water itself.

              The heat fatigue is MS only? No other neuro diseases or injuries do that?

            The heat fatigue is MS only? No other neuro diseases or injuries do that?
            MS is relatively unique in body warming causing pseudoexacerbation (which may include fatigue, but also worsening of other MS signs/symptoms. For example, my mother had MS, and if she had a fever, such as from a UTI, her speech slurring and cognitive deficits of MS would both get worse. A pseudoexacerbation due to heating will not cause symptom worsening that is permanent; it will improve within 24 hours with cooling.

            Both people with MS and other SCI/Ds may have problems with body temperature regulation, which can result in problems such as heat stroke (in hot environments or with exercise) or hypothermia (in cold environments).

            The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.