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Managing Chronic Pain Using Aquatics

2015 June 12
HydroWorx 2000 Series at Pieters Family Life Center

HydroWorx 2000 Series at Pieters Family Life Center

The following post is summarized from the recent article, “A new kind of holy water,” written by Barb Cacia, BS Ed., Wellness Coordinator at Pieters Family Life Center, and published online for McKnight’s.

Barb Cacia has spent many years helping individuals manage chronic pain by focusing on movement and incorporating sleep, nutrition and thought control into her programs. Aquatic therapy has been a key component of her programs due to they natural properties of water that are so beneficial for those with chronic pain. The warmth of the water coupled with the water’s buoyancy, which removes up to 100% of a person’s bodyweight, provides the freedom to move without pain.

When Barb discovered the HydroWorx 2000 Series pool at Pieter’s Family Life Center, she found that she could serve the community in multiple different ways. The technology combined with the warm water had impressive psychological and physiological benefits to those with chronic pain. Pieter’s Family Life Center now serves the community in a variety of ways with their aquatic program:

  • Traditional physical therapy
  • Public access
  • Fitness classes
  • Balance classes
  • One-on-one sessions

Chronic pain affects up to 85% of older adults and can cause depression, anxiety and social isolation. Barb has found that using aquatic therapy as a component of managing one’s chronic pain can be beneficial in tackling these symptoms.

Read the full article here>>


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Introducing the Third Nominee for the 2015 Excellence in Aquatics Award

2015 June 11

It can be easy to overlook how intensely college-level gymnasts must train.  Day in, day out, they push their bodies to the limit, sometimes with unwanted results.  At the University of Utah, one young gymnast discovered just how important the proper type of advanced rehab methodologies can be when injuries strike. Utah2015crop

In January of 2014, she ruptured her left Achilles tendon during the first collegiate seasonal meet.  It wasn’t the first time she had suffered from problems in her left ankle, but this latest injury required surgery and was potentially career-ending.  Many athletes who experience Achilles tendon ruptures never return to their chosen sports at their pre-injury levels; some do not return at all.

By the end of February, she was ready to begin exercising in the HydroWorx pool to maintain her cardiovascular endurance and work her way up to standing on her left foot.  Initially, she was instructed to swim against the resistance of the high-powered jets.  Eventually, the gymnast was able to bear some weight in the pool, which enabled her to jog and even sprint for short periods.  Along with hip and calf exercises, her routines enabled her to progress pain-free every week.

Even when she was finally able to comfortably return to land-based therapies and workout activities, her training team placed her in the HydroWorx therapy pool as frequently as they could.  This alleviated the pounding that her injured tendon experienced.  The pool was also used for plyometric activities to develop her fast-twitch muscles.  By the end of 2014, the student athlete was able to compete again, recording high scores for her performance on the uneven bars.  She helped her team take second place at the NCAA National Championships, and she plans to compete again in the coming season.

If you have been inspired by this story from the University of Utah, why not place a vote for our 2015 Excellent in Aquatics Award?  Just visit, and remember that you can vote once per day until June 17th at 11:59pm EDT.

Vote Today

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Introducing the Second Nominee for the 2015 Excellence in Aquatics Award

2015 June 6

“You have a left leg closed fracture, shaft fracture and compartment syndrome.”  It’s the news no football player wants to hear, especially a freshman lineman.  Yet those were the unfortunate results after an 18-year-old University of Tennessee first-year student was involved in a very serious motor vehicle accident.  Perhaps worst of all for the athlete who was so accustomed to regular, intense physical activity, doctors told him he would likely have to take a full year off for total recovery. Tennessee2015crop

Thankfully, he had a team of supportive athletic training professionals around him who were well-versed in progressive, water-based rehab techniques.  They were also determined to help him use all the amenities they had at their disposal to speed up his journey from “injured” to “active” status.

At 6’4” and 379 pounds, the player was unable to comfortably perform weight-bearing land-based therapies, even after 10+ weeks of recovery post-surgeries.  Yet when he began getting into the team’s HydroWorx pool several times per week, he could move much more freely.  At first, he worked in the therapy pool with a water depth as high as possible; this allowed his body to slowly adjust to the natural effects of gravity by offsetting his weight.  Between 11 and 26 weeks post-surgery, the water level was gradually adjusted to lower depths, giving his body the opportunity to naturally make the transition to being able to at least partially bear his weight.

At the beginning of his aquatic therapy, his athletic trainers were surprised to find that he progressed to jogging lightly on the underwater treadmill very early without much discomfort.  Over time, he could even sprint, hop and bound in the water.  By week 38, 14 weeks earlier than originally expected, he was practicing for the University of Tennessee’s spring season!  Not only did he participate fully in all of the spring practices March through April 2015, but he experienced minimal restrictions.

This freshman lineman continues to build his strength, improve his gait and make his return to pre-accident form.  By reducing his projected recovery by almost 27 percent using advanced methodologies including the HydroWorx therapy pool, his trainers were able to safely get him back on the field and in the game.

To vote for this heartening University of Tennessee story for our 2015 Excellence in Aquatics Award, visit  Remember that one vote is allowed per day!

Watch for our third – and final – comeback story next week!

Vote Today

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Creating a Scalable Business with Aquatic Therapy: Watch Webinar On-Demand

2015 June 3
by hydroworx

KeithOriHipReplacementLast week, Keith Ori, PT and Patrick Gulick, MS, PT, Co-Owners of Orthopedic Rehab’s Aquatic and Spine Center in Kalispell, MT, presented a webinar that gave an inside look into the process of integrating aquatic therapy into a business model. “Creating a Scalable Business with Aquatic Therapy” took place on May 28, 2015, and Keith Ori and Patrick Gulick shared how they developed a sustainable, successful business model for an aquatic therapy clinic.

They focused on a few key aspects of adding aquatics to a clinic:

  1. Deciding to expand into aquatic therapy. A lot of factors must be considered when deciding to expand into aquatic therapy. Some of the factors Patrick focused on were: the advantages of aquatic therapy, patient demographics, site visits to decide on a type of pool, finding a location for clinic and construction considerations. Not only is it important to understand why aquatic therapy is beneficial, but also how it can help the patient population in your area.
  2. Making a pool successful. As Patrick and Keith had seen from some of their site visits, simply offering aquatic therapy doesn’t guarantee profitability. It is important to understand what features of a pool are important to get results, the advantages of aquatic therapy for your patient demographic and to hire and train dedicated staff for the aquatic therapy program.
  3. Marketing the facility. Word of mouth is the best way to market the facility and the aquatic program. Other important marketing tactics include: having referring physicians experience the pool themselves, local advertising, local press and using social media to expand word of mouth marketing.
  4. Creating a business plan. Keith then provided detailed information on creating a business plan. He provided examples of his plan, including projected costs, projected number of monthly visits needed, projected charge per unit and projected expenses, He also shared considerations such as the demographic area, insurance reimbursement rates by region and which CPT codes are most accepted. He then provided his past 6 years of financial information including visits, charges, collections, expenses and net profit.

Keith and Patrick shared real-life examples, photos, statistics and financial information to show how aquatic therapy has worked for their business. They provided a great resource for anyone considering expanding or starting a clinic with aquatic therapy.

Watch the webinar on-demand here>>

View Webinar On-Demand

About Orthopedic Rehab

Orthopedic Rehab was the first outpatient physical therapy office in the Flathead Valley. Originally named Buffalo Hill Physical Therapy, Orthopedic Rehab was founded by Keith Ori in 1986.

Orthopedic Rehab is now owned and operated by Keith Ori, PT and Patrick Gulick, MS, PT. Patrick joined the practice in 2002. Orthopedic Rehab has grown to include 12 physical therapists, one physical therapy assistant, and a licensed athletic trainer. Offices are located in Kalispell, Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Bigfork, Dillon, and Libby. They also feature a state-of-the-art Aquatic & Spine Center in Kalispell’s Two Medicine Building.

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Preparing Successful Aquatic Therapy Programs

2015 June 2

Hydrotherapy pool at Peak Performance Physical Therapy

Hydrotherapy pool at Peak Performance Physical Therapy

The following post is summarized from the recent article, “5 ‘Must Haves’ for Aquatic Therapy Programs,” written by Joe Sullivan, owner of Peak Performance Physical Therapy, and published in Advance for PT magazine.

In this recent article, Joe Sullivan owner of Peak Performance Physical Therapy in Nassau County, NY, discusses the important advantages of successful aquatic therapy programs.

  1. The natural properties of water provide benefits for nearly all patient populations. The buoyancy of the water removes between 20-90% of a patient’s body weight, allowing them to move more freely and virtually pain-free. Even individuals who are unable to perform therapy or exercise on land are able to see immediate results in the water. The hydrostatic pressure naturally decreases inflammation and increases circulation. This natural pressure over the body helps to remove lactic acid and reduce pain.
  2. The buoyancy of the water allows for falls prevention programs. The amount of Medicare patients at Peak Performance Physical Therapy that have also had a fall in the last year is quite shocking. Falls prevention programs allow patients to reduce their risk of falling, by improving their balance and correcting posture and gait. Gains made in the water transfer to activities of daily living and can help reduce the risk of falls in everyday situations.
  3. The aquatic environment is ideal for post-op rehab. The number of joint replacements continues to rise and aquatic therapy allows patients to begin rehabilitation and activity sooner. Because the water provides a virtually pain-free environment, patient compliance increases while range of motion and muscle strength can be maintained after surgery, which ultimately improves overall function.
  4. Aquatic therapy allows a clinic to be a “facility of choice” for referring physicians and patients. This creates an ideal environment for word-of-mouth marketing. As patients are referred to Peak Performance Physical Therapy, have exceptional results with aquatic therapy and subsequently thank their physicians for the referral, patients and doctors become advocates for the facility.

It is also important to understand what factors should be considered when purchasing a pool for aquatic therapy. Sullivan mentions three key things to consider:

  • Craftsmanship including quality, service and maintenance.
  • Size of the pool in relation to your needs, consider how many patients you would like to see at once.
  • Additional features enhance aquatic therapy outcomes, including dumbbells, noodles, weights and most importantly underwater treadmill.

Aquatic therapy, when utilized correctly, can produce the most advanced rehabilitative outcomes available. Smart choices regarding your investment in this modality can help position your practice as one offering the best in technology and the full spectrum of care.

If you are considering adding aquatic therapy to your facility, watch our recent webinar on-demand, “Creating a Scalable Business with Aquatic Therapy.”

View Webinar On-Demand

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