Objective. To determine the tolerance and feasibility of aquatic-based power training for improving lower limb muscle power, impairments, and mobility in adults with symptomatic knee OA.
Participants. Twenty-nine adults, age 50 years and over, with symptomatic knee OA (ACR clinical criteria) and mobility limitation (400-meter walk time slower than median for sex and decade) completed 45-minute aquatic power training sessions twice weekly for 6 weeks.
Main Outcome Measurements. Prospective outcomes included tolerance of the program, as well as change in stair climb power, 400-meter walk time, overall and knee specific pain, activities of daily living (ADL), quality of life (QOL), and lower limb function at 6- and 12-week follow-up.
Results. The training intensity required modification for 9 of the 29 participants. Lower limb muscle power, ADL, QOL, and overall pain were improved immediately and 6 weeks following completion (all P < 0.05). However, 400-meter walk times, and lower limb function did not differ from baseline.
Conclusions. A 6-week aquatic rehabilitation program appears to be well tolerated by adults with symptomatic knee OA with mobility limitations and may result in improved lower limb muscle power, symptoms, ADL, and QOL. However, this intervention may have insufficient specificity or intensity for improving physical function.