Aquatic therapy is also known as water therapy or hydrotherapy. It has been used for centuries to invigorate the body while relieving pain. Forms can be liquid, ice, or steam with water temperatures, ranging between 92°F and 99°F. The cooler water temperatures are used to relieve swelling.
Therapists use various forms of water therapy for a variety of needs, including hot/cold packs, hot tubs, ice massages, Jacuzzis, moist heat packs, saunas, sitz baths, steam baths, and whirlpools. Even drinking water has decided benefits under certain circumstances. Another therapy using water is called WATSU (water shiatsu) where massage techniques are performed in chest high warm water.
Many physical and occupational therapists, the YMCA/YWCA, and some health and fitness centers possess the credentials for water therapy. Credentialing, training, and experience vary. Hospital-based programs generally have higher requirements. Many of them employ occupational and physical therapists who have had training in aquatic therapy. Certified Aquatic Exercise Instructors must also have CPR and First Aid certification or the Red Cross Water Safety Instructor certification (WSI).
Light therapy, or hototherapy, is used in conventional medicine as in the cases of exposing newborns to blue light to cure jaundice. Dermatologists frequently prescribe sunlight or ultraviolet light to heal psoriasis and certain kinds of dermatitis. Surgical use of lasers is a form of light therapy.
Currently, research is focusing on the effects of light on the central nervous system and the body’s seasonal biorhythms, as in cases of SAD (seasonal affective disorder). It is also being tested in nonseasonal disorders ranging from depression, bulimia, lupus, jet lag, insomnia, mental illnesses, and shift changes, to various mentstrual problems, infertility, and cancers.
Magnetic therapy is an ancient practice recently revived. Cleopatra was known to wear a magnet on her forehead, hoping to preserve her youthfulness and good looks. The Romans used the electrical charges in eels to treat arthritis and gout. In the 1800’s, magnets were popular and could be found in hats, girdles, and belts. Magnets were even ground up and used in salves and ointments. Today is no different, with sports teams using them for their players. Individuals also claim their benefits. It is wise to note that the effectiveness of magnets can be determined by looking at its field of reach.
Most magnets have only a few inches of depth to its power; so, when they are buried in soft material, the effectiveness cannot be as great as when used without coverings. There are various types of magnets on the market today. Unipolar products have their south-seeking poles facing the body. Multipolar (or bipolar) products have the north and south poles arranged in an alternating pattern with each having – pardon the pun – positive and negative results.
Magnets should NOT be used by pregnant women, or those who have cancer, or who have bacterial or viral infections. It is also recommended that those who are wearing pacemakers should not place magnets near the chest or mid-back.