Graca (2020) Immediate Effects of Aquatic Therapy on Balance in Older Adults with Upper Limb Dysfunction: An Exploratory Study



Aquatic physiotherapy has been shown to be effective in developing balance, strength, and functional reach over time. When dealing with immediate effects, the literature has concentrated more on the body’s physiological response to the physical and mechanical properties of water during passive immersion. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of a single 45-min active aquatic physiotherapy session on standing balance and strength, and its relationship with functional reach in persons 55 years and older with upper limb dysfunction. Methods: The intervention group (n = 12) was assessed before and after a single aquatic physiotherapy session, while the control group (n = 10) was evaluated before and after 45 min of sitting rest. Functional assessment was made using the visual analogue pain scale (points), step test (repetitions), functional reach test (cm), and global balance-standing test on a force platform (% time). A two-way repeated-measures ANOVA was applied (p < 0.05). Results: The intervention group showed non-significant improvements between measurement before and after the intervention: Pain: 6.2 ± 1.9 vs. 5.2 ± 2.3 cm, steps: 7.0 ± 2.0 vs. 7.4 ± 1.8 repetitions, reach: 9.1 ± 2.8 vs. 10.4 ± 3.8 cm, and balance: 61.7 ± 5.9 vs. 71.3 ± 18.2% time in balance on the platform. The control group showed fewer changes but had better baseline values. A comparison between groups with time showed no significant differences in these changes.


No significant immediate effects were found for one session of aquatic physiotherapy applied to patients older than 55 years with upper limb dysfunction. Keywords: single aquatic intervention; outcomes; functional performance

Keywords: single aquatic intervention; outcomes; functional performance

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