A therapeutic pool is typically used for physical therapy sessions and fitness classes to help patients retain strength and flexibility. People who receive physical therapy after injuries may choose to visit a therapeutic pool after completing therapy to remain in good condition and retain the progress they made. Others may use a pool as part of a physical therapy or fitness regimen. Such pools are specifically designed to accommodate people with disabilities like mobility limitations, and include staff members with medical experience and physical therapy training.
Pools offer several advantages to people recovering from injuries as well as individuals with chronic pain, poor coordination, and other issues. Being in water creates a sensation of weightlessness and reduces the load on joints. A warm pool can be beneficial for deep tissue pain and soreness. Therapies can allow people to stretch and move more deeply in the water to provide benefits that may transfer to dry land as well, such as increased stamina and flexibility.
Some rehabilitation facilities maintain a therapeutic pool, as do some physical therapy centers. In other cases, a hospital or rehabilitation facility may make arrangements with a health club or community center to use their pool at set times. The level of support and assistance available can vary. Facilities may offer patients personal physical therapy in the pool, or might only provide general group classes. These courses can be structured around different conditions or fitness levels.
In addition to a therapeutic pool, a facility may maintain a hot tub which is kept even warmer for people to use after exercise or therapy. Warm water can help reduce muscle tension and soreness to make patients more comfortable. Cool pools are also available in some cases for those who would benefit from a cooler environment for exercise and aquatic therapy. In all cases, the sensation of weightlessness in water can allow people to concentrate on a therapy program or exercise class in the water without worrying about straining joints.
Patients may need a prescription to use a therapeutic pool. A physical therapist or doctor can make a recommendation and help the patient develop an appropriate plan and schedule. More experienced patients may be allowed to participate in “open” classes, where people perform their own exercises under supervision rather than following a class or working personally with a physical therapist. Such classes can make it easier for patients to adjust their schedules because they may be able to drop in at several times during the day rather than having to make a specific appointment time.