Swimming and Aqua Therapy

I am honored to know Johan Lambeck, a much sought after aqua therapy professional with extensive and rich experience. He is based in Switzerland but travels all over the world to deliver seminars and give practical sessions on all aspects of aqua therapy.

I was lucky to meet him in Moscow, in 2014, at the Moscow International Aquatics Conference.

In May 2017, I attended a two-week aqua therapy course in Switzerland where Johan was one of the professional instructors.

Aqua therapy is widely used as a safe and gentle approach to treat patients in rehabilitation to help the healing process of the body.

Water can heal the body. People who spend their lives in a wheelchair are likely to move less dependently and perhaps even walk while in the water and there is no doubt that they feel amazing and somewhat liberated.

When some patients have a hard time to exercise on land, water can provide a safe and gentle environment (thanks to the properties of water) to improve rehabilitation timeframes and fitness levels and, additionally, can provide the incredible feeling of free movement while it might be extremely difficult on land due to limitations related to their health conditions.

At the course in Switzerland, it was interesting to note that during the practical sessions, games and playful approach were used to make it a fun experience. Johan truly believes that enjoyment is one of the most important elements in working with the physically challenged and I am happy that I share the same thoughts as him.

I perceive swimming as a means to stay fit and healthy whilst enjoying the activity. My aim in teaching how to swim is through the pleasure of being in water and at the same time exercising in order to enhance your health.

Johan is currently in Doha, teaching the course to physiotherapists in a local government medical organization and I am pleased that he had time to meet up with me to discuss many topics related to water exercises. He believes that at some point, that while treating the physically challenged, they should be pushed to their absolute limits in order to progress and start feeling the benefits. Johan believes that the roles of physiotherapists and swimming teachers should be complementary for optimum results. This is because the role of the therapist eventually comes to an end as they are not related to swimming. It is be better to continue with a swimming teacher as swimming for health and fitness is a good tool to stay active and enjoy the life to the fullest.

 

I had a chance to tell him about my blog and he was so kind as to send me the articles referring to the same idea – fun and enjoyment are the significant part of therapy!

Ellen Broach and Alexis McKenney’s manuscript “Social Fun and Enjoyment: Viable Outcomes in Aquatics for Individuals with Physical Disabilities” was published in the International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education in 2012, which emphasizes that it is really good if an aquatic practitioner can appreciate their ability to help a specific population make a change to their lives. Water by itself can give an incredible feeling of ease and positive emotions. Whether it is a therapist or an aquatic practitioner working with the physically challenged by incorporating enjoyment and fun into the therapeutic sessions, it is possible to improve overall health of their patients.

 

The report “The health and wellbeing benefits of swimming” produced by the Swimming and Health Commission (UK) shows that the relationship between swimming and health and wellbeing has been deeply investigated. It has been proved that swimming improves all aspects of health including mental health in people of all ages and abilities and leads to longevity.

 

The research article “Benefits and Enjoyment of a Swimming Intervention for Youth With Cerebral Palsy” by Marlies Declerck, PT, PhD; Martine Verheul, PhD; Daniel Daly, PhD; Ross Sanders, PhD explains that enjoyable experience of exercising in the water contributes in sustaining a physically active lifestyle and therefore  preventing chronic pain, fatigue, and deterioration of  coordination  skills in adults with Cerebral Palsy.

 

To sum, up I can confidently say water can provide an enormous variety of workouts that are suitable for all ages, abilities and for those who are physically challenged. The essential component is enjoyment whether it is water based activities or any other activity which could become an important part of day-to-day life for a long time.

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  1. Well composed article. Agree with your points, as therapists, some times we are so focused on getting the outcome that we loose the fun element in it.

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