Hydrotherapy can be a valuable component of a comprehensive rehabilitation program for athletes with Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) and other neurological disorders such as Stroke and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Exercising in warm water enhances physical and psychological well-being while addressing specific challenges associated with spinal cord injuries.
Hydrotherapy holds significant advantages for athletes living with a SCI. The warm water environment fosters muscle relaxation, easing spasms and stiffness commonly associated with SCI.
Rehabilitation exercises tailored by an Exercise Physiologist can effectively boost muscular strength, capitalising on the unique resistance properties of water. Some movements achievable in an aquatic environment are often challenging or impossible to replicate on solid ground.
The buoyancy and anti-gravity effects of water afford unparalleled freedom of movement, making it an ideal medium for those with restricted mobility due to weakness or paralysis. Hydrotherapy proves instrumental in mitigating spasticity, a prevalent issue among neurological injury athletes that can worsen in cold conditions. Hydrotherapy not only diminishes spasticity but also promotes fluid movement and enhances overall athlete comfort.
Hydrotherapy enhances blood circulation to muscles, aiding in healing and addressing issues like pressure sores. Additionally, it offers pain relief, improved joint flexibility, and a broader range of motion, all of which can be restricted in SCI.
Core strength and balance stand as vital components of neurological recovery and functional capability. The heightened viscosity and buoyancy of water provide essential support in both sitting and standing positions.
Manipulating water resistance around the athlete becomes a strategic tool for challenging and fortifying core muscles and balance mechanisms.
This aquatic setting provides a safe platform for fall prevention training, a critical aspect that may prove precarious on land, especially for ambulant athletes dealing with conditions like MS or recovering from a Stroke.
Beyond the physical benefits, hydrotherapy contributes to cardiovascular fitness and psychological well-being, alleviating stress and promoting a positive outlook.
Managing spasticity, enhancing balance and core strength, and fostering a sense of independence are among the many advantages athletes with SCI can gain from hydrotherapy, making it an integral part of their rehabilitation journey.
At The Next Step Recovery and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, our mission is to provide tailored programs and services for athletes recovering from spinal cord injuries and neurological conditions. Our Athlete Scholarship Program secures generous funding for athletes without financial support.