Volpe (2014) Comparing the effects of hydrotherapy and land-based therapy on balance in patients with Parkinson’s disease: a randomized controlled pilot study

Introduction to Hydrotherapy in Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) impairs balance and increases fall risk, significantly affecting quality of life. While medications offer some relief, they do not fully address balance issues. Hydrotherapy, exercising in water, emerges as a potential intervention due to water’s unique properties, such as buoyancy and hydrostatic pressure, which can alleviate joint stress and facilitate safe balance training.

Study Objective and Methodology

This randomized controlled pilot study aimed to assess hydrotherapy’s feasibility and its impact on balance in PD patients compared to traditional land-based therapy. Thirty-four PD patients in moderate disease stages underwent either hydrotherapy or land-based therapy, with sessions lasting 60 minutes, five days a week for two months. The study’s primary measure was balance, evaluated using a stabilometric platform under open and closed eyes conditions.

Key Findings and Implications

Both hydrotherapy and land-based therapy groups showed significant improvements across various outcomes, including balance, functional mobility, and quality of life measures. However, the hydrotherapy group exhibited superior improvements in specific balance parameters, such as the Center of Pressure (COP) sway area with closed eyes, indicating enhanced postural control in a proprioceptively demanding condition. These results suggest that hydrotherapy might offer additional benefits over land-based therapy for PD patients, potentially due to the aquatic environment’s unique physical properties facilitating more effective balance training.

Hydrotherapy’s Potential in PD Rehabilitation

The study highlights hydrotherapy’s safety and effectiveness in improving balance and reducing falls among PD patients, suggesting it as a viable addition to PD rehabilitation protocols. The aquatic environment’s supportive nature might help patients relearn movements and improve postural stability, addressing PD’s balance impairments more effectively than traditional land-based approaches.

Conclusion and Future Directions

Hydrotherapy shows promise for improving balance and quality of life in PD patients, warranting further research with larger samples and longer follow-up periods to confirm these findings and explore the long-term benefits of aquatic therapy in PD management.

Keywords: Hydrotherapy, Parkinson’s disease, Balance improvement, Aquatic therapy, Land-based therapy, Rehabilitation.

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