Lambeck (2022) IATF expert opinion Enhancing the quality of aquatic therapy for subacute and chronic stroke patients

Summary: Enhancing Aquatic Therapy for Stroke Patients

Aquatic Therapy in Stroke Rehabilitation

Stroke is a major global health concern, leading to significant disability and dependence. Aquatic therapy, or Therapeutic Aquatic Exercise (TAE), is increasingly recognized in stroke rehabilitation. This approach offers benefits like reduced joint stress and enhanced support, making it ideal for recovering stroke patients.

The 2022 expert opinion by Lambeck and Gamper highlights the evolution of aquatic therapy in stroke rehabilitation. Earlier, aquatic therapy’s efficacy was unclear due to limited studies. However, recent years have seen a surge in research, bringing new insights.

Research Evolution and Current Understanding

Since 2010, there’s been a notable increase in studies focused on aquatic therapy for stroke. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses between 2017 and 2020 examined numerous randomized clinical trials, including over a thousand patients. These studies predominantly focused on balance, functionality, strength, mobility, lower limb function, and gait parameters.

Findings consistently show positive outcomes of aquatic exercise in post-stroke rehabilitation. Aquatic therapy, either standalone or combined with land therapy, is at least as effective as land therapy alone for various outcomes. Specifically, in chronic stroke patients, aquatic therapy showed statistical improvements in balance and gait.

Clinical Implications and Future Directions

These findings emphasize the importance of aquatic therapy in stroke rehabilitation programs. However, the expert opinion also points out the need for more uniformity in intervention descriptions and outcome measures. Future research should focus on more precise and replicable exercise descriptions and comprehensive outcome assessments.

This expert opinion represents a significant step in understanding the role of aquatic therapy in stroke rehabilitation. It provides a foundation for future research and clinical practice, aiming to enhance the quality and effectiveness of aquatic therapy for stroke patients.


download article