Aquatic therapy beneficial to multiple sclerosis patients, study finds

Aquatic therapy can help people with multiple sclerosis increase muscle strength and mobility without causing any apparent adverse side effects, according to a study by a UNT Health Science Center researcher.

A systematic review and controlled trial of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) found that patients who did aquatic therapy scored higher in outcome measures than patients who did not, said Yasser Salem, PhD, PT, NCS, PCS, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy.

In addition to increased strength and mobility, patients doing aquatic therapy also improved their cardiovascular fitness. No negative changes in patients’ neurologic states were detected.

Dr. Salem recently presented these findings at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers. The research also was the subject of a story in Clinical Neurology News.

Multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects the spinal cord and brain, is believed to impact about 2.3 million worldwide.

In recent years, more physicians and therapists have recommended aquatic therapy for MS patients, who often grow fatigued easily. The water helps relax muscles, control body temperature and reduce joint stress so patients can exercise longer.

The study’s findings suggest aquatic therapy is beneficial when used as an adjunct treatment for MS patients, Dr. Salem said.

Dr. Salem is the Director of Research of the Aquatic Section of the American Physical Therapy Association.

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