Cuesta-Vargas (2020) Identification of Tools for the Functional and Subjective Assessment of Patients in an Aquatic Environment A Systematic Review

Introduction to Aquatic Therapy Assessment

Aquatic therapy is increasingly utilized for musculoskeletal conditions. Its efficacy is often measured using functional tests and questionnaires. While many functional tests are performed on land, their outcomes can differ in water. This systematic review focuses on identifying accurate functional tests and patient-reported outcomes for aquatic therapy assessments.

Methodology of Systematic Review

The review followed Cochrane criteria and was registered in PROSPERO. It adhered to PRISMA guidelines. Databases searched included PubMed, Scopus, Scielo, and Otseeker, using specific search strings related to aquatic therapy and assessment tools. Studies were selected through a two-stage process involving title, abstract, and full-text review.

Selection Criteria and Quality Assessment

Inclusion criteria for functional tests were studies assessing tests in aquatic environments across any population. For patient-reported outcomes, clinical trials utilizing aquatic exercises for rehabilitation and including self-reported assessments were considered. The Stard scale was employed for assessing internal validity of functional tests.

Synthesis of Findings

The review identified 14 studies on functional tests and 725 on patient-reported outcomes in aquatic therapy. Functional tests varied in their assessed variables, including cardiorespiratory, neuromuscular, and kinematic responses. Commonly used patient-reported assessments included Visual Analogue Scale and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index.

Discussion of Aquatic vs. Dry Environment Assessments

The review highlighted differences in test outcomes between aquatic and dry environments, underscoring the importance of environment-specific assessments. For instance, walking tests showed varying neuromuscular responses between land and water.

Conclusion on Aquatic Therapy Assessments

The systematic review underlines the necessity of evaluating functional tests in aquatic settings due to potential differences from dry land assessments. It emphasizes the significance of choosing appropriate assessment tools for aquatic therapy, considering their applicability and psychometric properties.

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