WATER TREADMILL SESSIONS
Water Treadmill Sessions
Hydrotherapy uses the properties of water – buoyancy, viscosity, resistance and hydrostatic pressure – to enable compromised animals to exercise, build strength and muscle mass, improve the range of motion of joints, as well as ease stiffness and pain.
A water treadmill is just that, a treadmill that runs in water. A free-standing unit or glass tank with two doors and ramps with a motorized belt inside. The patient is walked into the unit, the doors closed and temperature controlled water is pumped into the tank to the desired level. The water levels are adjustable according to patient size and requirement. In addition to the buoyancy and resistance effects of water, the treadmill encourages walking or jogging with a more normal gait pattern than is achieved with swimming. The height of the water is adjusted which alters the degree of support or buoyancy and as well as joint motion. The water treadmill’s speed is adjusted according to the patient as well as the incline or decline on which they must walk.
Aquatic exercise is beneficial for a variety of conditions. This therapy encourages weight baring, however, is low impact on bones and joints. Water, however, is denser than air, creating resistance activating and building muscle mass. This is ideal in post-surgical recovery, painful conditions such as arthritis or joint dysplasia, neurological or compromised patients who require gait training, as well as overweight patients who find it difficult to exercise on land. Aquatic exercise is great to keep your companion in shape and aid weight management, as well as maintain fitness, strength and body conditioning.
The temperature of the water must also be kept in mind. My water temperature ranges from 28 to 32 degrees depending on the season and ambient temperatures. It must be remembered that your companion is exercising in this water and needs to be able to lose heat and maintain their body temperature.
A therapist is with the patient in the water to ensure their safety and minimize anxiety. Your companion’s first session or introduction to the treadmill focuses on getting them acclimatized to the new surroundings, noises and sensations. The process is done in a step wise fashion. Your companion is initially just walked through the tread dry getting them used to the equipment. Thereafter the doors are closed and water is gradually introduced ensuring that they remain calm. Once they have adjusted to the water the treadmill is turned on to an appropriate speed teaching them to walk on it and move in the water. Rewards, praise and positive reinforcement are essential. With each session, we aim to improve the time for which they walk, the speed and the degree of incline or decline.