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Aquatic physiotherapy and shoulder rehabilitation for rotator cuff injuries.

  • Source: Aqualines: The Journal of the Hydrotherapy Association of Chartered Physiotherapists . 2012, Vol. 24 Issue 2, p6-16. 11p. 6 Charts.
  • Author(s): Wagner, Deborah
  • Abstract: Purpose: To perform a search of literature to identify evidence that exists to support the effective use of aquatic physiotherapy as a treatment technique for rotator cuff injuries. Background: One of the most common causes of pain and disability in the shoulder is the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff contributes to glenohumeral movement and functions as a dynamic stabiliser of the shoulder joint, supporting the capsule and preventing excessive anterior and posterior shearing. Aquatic physiotherapy is one of several treatment methods used for shoulder rehabilitation following rotator cuff injuries. It is believed that the warm water and buoyancy facilitates shoulder mobility, reduces pain and improves scapulohumeral rhythm. Method: A literature review of online databases was conducted to evaluate available research for the use of aquatic physiotherapy as a treatment technique for rotator cuff injuries. Results: no double blinded randomized controlled trials, one case study, one feasibility study, one pilot study, one literature review and four clinical opinions. Conclusion: The findings suggest that there is some evidence to support the use of aquatic physiotherapy for treatment of rotator cuff injuries however this conclusion has been based on studies of lower scientific merit. There is a definite need for further study within the area of aquatic physiotherapy and shoulder rehabilitation for rotator cuff injuries.
  • Copyright of Aqualines: The Journal of the Hydrotherapy Association of Chartered Physiotherapists is the property of Aquatic Therapy Association of Chartered Physiotherapists and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract.

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You've heard every rationale in the book from payers who want to discontinue aquatic therapy.

--"It's not functional; people don't live in the water"

--"6-8 visits to teach the exercises, then an immediate transition to land"

--"You don't need a skilled therapist to teach water aerobics." (my personal favorite)

So, when the day comes when a gorgeous piece of literature comes out which makes the case for aquatic therapy -- and that case is not just (unequivocally) pro-aquatic therapy, but pro-starting-as-early-as-4-days-post-op, well, it's time to celebrate.

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