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Make a Splash While Recovering from Spinal Cord Injuries

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Make a Splash While Recovering from Spinal Cord Injuries

Many of us have fond childhood memories of swimming in the pool and splashing others with cannon balls during the summer. However, as we get older, there seem to be fewer reasons to drag out that swimsuit and head over to the pool. But for those suffering from spinal cord injuries, easing back into the water just might be the key to an improved recovery.

Aquatic therapy enables patients to increase functioning capabilities in the comfort of warm water. As they master the different levels of therapy, they have the ability to transition those skills out of the water into daily life. In aquatic therapy, water acts as a multi-directional resistance to the force exerted. Through the resistance of the water, patients are enabled to move more independently and upright.

"The amount of recovery following a spinal cord injury depends on the type of damage to the spinal cord and on the level of the injury," said Jack Zigler, M.D., spine surgeon with Texas Back Institute. "Aquatic therapy can help to improve an individual's quality of life in the long term as progress is made in their recovery."

There are different water levels used to help regain full functioning capabilities. Depending on the severity of the injury, therapy begins in chest deep water and progresses into waist deep water. As the water level drops lower, gravity begins to effect overall movements. The added force of gravity enables patients to increase strength and regain ability to function outside of the water. Throughout aquatic therapy, flotation devices, resistance equipment and common aquatic devices such as snorkels or portable steps, are used to aid in recovery.

Before throwing those kickboards away, think twice about aquatic therapy. Not only does aquatic therapy enable many to regain functioning skills but it can also serve as a recreational activity that allows the entire family to participate in the patient's recovery.

Aquatic therapy goals:

o Reduce spasticity.

o Improve cardiovascular conditioning.

o Increase balance while sitting and standing.

o Facilitate active movement and strength.

o Increase level of functioning skills.

Texas Back Institute, Plano, Texas: As one of the nation's largest spine clinics, the Texas Back Institute is the expert in solutions for back pain. Founded in 1978, the Texas Back Institute has always recommended non-surgical treatments because we know they work best to relieve pain in most patients. The Institute receives some of the most complex cases from across the country and we treat patients with a team approach that ensures appropriate treatment for each person's specific condition. The Texas Back Institute provides a complete team of highly trained medical professionals, non-surgical treatment protocols and rehabilitation. The professional staff includes board-certified orthopedic surgeons with spine fellowship training, general surgeons, general medicine physicians, internists, chiropractors, physiatrists, pain specialists, exercise physiologists and a team of physical and occupational therapists. From non-operative spine care to surgery, the Texas Back Institute offers chiropractic care, diagnostic procedures, fitness services, pain management, patient education, physical therapy, research and return-to-work programs including work conditioning and work hardening. To learn more about the Texas Back Institute and to obtain free updates and helpful back tips, go to or call 1-800-247-BACK. Texas Back Institute's main office is located on the campus of Presbyterian Hospital of Plano, with offices in Denton, Fort Worth, Garland, Hurst, Mesquite, Midland, Wichita Falls, TX and Phoenix, AZ. For additional information, visit the Texas Back Institute website at

© Health News 2003 All Rights Reserved.

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