Denning (2010) Underwater Treadmill Exercise as a Potential Treatment for Adults With Osteoarthritis

The study conducted by William M. Denning, Eadric Bressel, and Dennis G. Dolny explores the acute effects of underwater and land treadmill exercise on individuals with osteoarthritis (OA). It focuses on oxygen consumption, perceived pain, and mobility through Timed Up & Go (TUG) scores.

Comparative Analysis of Exercise Environments
Participants engaged in both underwater and land treadmill exercises, allowing for a direct comparison of the effects in different environments. The study found no significant difference in oxygen consumption between the two settings during moderate intensities. However, low-intensity exercise on land showed a 37% increase in oxygen consumption compared to underwater exercise.

Impact on Perceived Pain and Mobility
A remarkable finding was the significantly lower perceived pain and improved TUG scores in underwater exercise compared to land-based exercise. This indicates that underwater treadmill exercise may offer a gentler alternative for individuals with OA, reducing pain while engaging in physical activity.

The Role of Aquatic Therapy
The study highlights the potential benefits of aquatic therapy, suggesting that the buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, and warmth of water can ease movement and reduce pain. This aligns with previous research indicating aquatic exercise’s advantages over land-based therapy for individuals with OA.

Methodology and Participants
The research involved nineteen participants diagnosed with OA, who underwent controlled exercise sessions on both underwater and land treadmills. The study meticulously recorded VO2, perceived pain, and TUG scores to assess the impact of the exercise medium.

Conclusions and Implications
The findings suggest that underwater treadmill exercise can be an effective treatment for OA patients, offering comparable energy expenditures to land-based exercise with the added benefits of reduced pain and improved mobility. This study underscores the therapeutic potential of underwater treadmill exercise in managing OA symptoms.

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