Strokes are a leading cause of disability in developed countries. Patients with disabilities need rehabilitation to improve their physical functioning, mental status, and quality of life. Currently, no high-quality evidence can be found attesting the benefits of any of the interventions that are nowadays used. Water-based exercise may improve the physical conditions and quality of life of people in the post-stroke phase. The objective of this study is to test whether aquatic therapy in an enriched environment at the seaside (a thalassotherapy center) could play a role in this condition. A quasi-experimental prospective study consisting of a specific program assessed 62 patients with a mild–moderate disability pre- and post-2 weeks of intensive treatment. They followed a thalassotherapy regimen including aquatic therapy in a sea water pool at 32–34 ◦C for 45 min daily five times a week. The outcomes measured were the Berg Balance scale, the Timed Up and Go test, the 10-meter walking test, the 6-min walking test, the Pain Visual Analogue Scale, the WHO Well-being index, EuroQoL VAS and EuroQoL 5D. We observed a significant improvement in all outcomes measured (p < 0.001, except mobility EuroQoL p < 0.05), except in the other four dimensions of the EuroQoL 5D and 10-metre walking test (NS). Conclusion: A two-week intensive course of aquatic therapy and thalassotherapy may be beneficial in the short term by reducing pain and improving the functional status and overall well-being of post-stroke patients.
Keywords: aquatic therapy; thalassotherapy; stroke; balance; gait; pain; quality of life