May 2017: Parkinson's Disease


The Pool is custom-made for treating Parkinson's Disease

Recent publications which show how water works for Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease is progressive. Unlike a stroke, where the damage is done, and the work of rehabilitation can begin, with Parkinson’s, each day can feel like “the luck of the draw”. Is today going to be a good day? Will I lose my ability to get out of my favorite chair tomorrow?

Worse, the neurological damage to the brain that accompanies Parkinson’s Disease can result in more than physical disability. The loss of mobility and strength that often manifests with this progressive disorder lead to a trickle-down loss of independence. It is no longer safe to drive, to cook… or worse, to bathe. It becomes necessary to rely on others, family or even strangers and this dependence can easily creep into depression and a significant loss of self-esteem and efficacy. Patients who don’t feel good about their lives don’t exercise. They don’t come to therapy and when they do, they are often too nervous to risk new challenges.

Enter the pool. Enter a tool which, when used properly, can improve self-esteem and efficacy, thus leading to self-care behaviors that promote both rehabilitation and, ultimately, greatly improved physical and cognitive health. Enter an environment where buoyancy makes each step easier and balance training can occur in an environment where it is safe to fail. Resistance training becomes as easy as moving again a viscous, turbulent fluid. It is possible to stretch – to open the chest, to breathe a deep breath – without the fear of toppling over.

Aquatic exercise venues provide an opportunity for vital social skills to be honed and new friendships can be established. Participants can experience a feeling of greater social support, which is of great assistance in helping them to withstand any setbacks in the rehabilitation process that they may experience. Amazingly, the benefits of an aquatic exercise program are not limited to participants but can extend to caregiving families and to the community in the form of reduced disease burden, both emotionally and financially.

Take a moment to glance at the titles of the reference which follow. Control+click on the hyperlinks to read the articles. Aquatic therapists have long believed that the pool is tailor-made for the needs of patients with Parkinson’s. It appears that the researchers agree!

Allison Coleman, A. P. (2015). Feasibility and Safety of an Aquatherapy Program in Mid- to Late-Stage Huntington Disease. International Journal of Neurorehabilitation, 2(4), 1–6.
Ayán, C., Cancela, J. M., Gutiérrez-Santiago, A., Prieto, I., Ayan, C., Cancela, J. M., … Prieto, I. (2014). Effects of two different exercise programs on gait parameters in individuals with Parkinson’s disease: a pilot study. Gait & Posture, 39(1), 648–51.
Cancela, J. J. M., Ayan, C., Crispim, C., Seijo-Martínez, M., Nascimento, C. M. C., & Seijo-Martínez, M. (2015). Effects of Water-Based and Callisthenic Exercise on Freezing of Gait, Postural Control, and Functional Independence in Patients With Mild to Moderate Parkinson. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, 31(2), 152–158 7p.
Loureiro, A. P. C., Burkot, J., Oliveira, J., & Barbosa, J. (2014). Aquatic physical therapy for Parkinson’s disease patients to improve quality of sleep. Movement Disorders, 29, S294.
Mendez-Rial, B., Carral, J., & Ayan, C. (2016). Longitudinal study of the effect of a combined exercise program (land and water) on the physical condition in elderly with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, 22(Suppl 2), e67–e68. Retrieved from
Methajarunon, P., Eitivipart, C., Diver, C. C. J., & Foongchomcheay, A. (2016). Systematic review of published studies on aquatic exercise for balance in patients with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and hemiplegia. Hong Kong Physiotherapy Journal, 35, 12–20.
Morris, M., & Menz, H. (2015). A Randomized Controlled Trial to Reduce Falls in People With Parkinson’s Disease. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair. Retrieved from
Myers, K. W., Capek, D., Shill, H., & Sabbagh, M. (2013). Aquatic Therapy and Alzheimer’s Disease. Annals of Long-Term Care: Clinical Care and Aging, 21(5), 36–41.
Pereira, M. P., Oliveira Ferreira, M. D. T. De, Caetano, M. J. D., Vitório, R., Lirani-Silva, E., Barbieri, F. A., … Gobbi, L. T. B. (2012). Long-Term Multimodal Exercise Program Enhances Mobility of Patients with Parkinson’s Disease. ISRN Rehabilitation, 2012(June), 1–7.
Pérez, C. A., & Cancela, J. M. (2014). Effectiveness of water-based exercise in people living with Parkinson’s disease: a systematic review. European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, 11(2), 107–118. Retrieved from
Pompeu, J. E., Gimenes, R. O., Pereira, R. P., Rocha, S. L., & Santos, M. A. (2011). Effects of aquatic physical therapy on balance and gait of patients with Parkinson’s disease, 201–204. Retrieved from
Rodriguez-Ruiz, D., Rodríguez-Ruiz, D., Palomino, A., Gutierrez, S., García, D., & Rodríguez-Matoso, D. (2014). Effects of different aquatic exercises programs on mechanical characteristics of vastus lateralis in subjects diagnosed with stage 1 Parkinson’s disease. Movement Disorders, 29, S262–S263.
Villegas, I. L., & Israel, V. (2014). Effect of the Ai-Chi Method on Functional Activity, Quality of Life, and Posture in Patients With Parkinson Disease. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, 30(4), 282–289.
Vivas, J., Arias, P., & Cudeiro, J. (2011). Aquatic therapy versus conventional land-based therapy for Parkinson’s disease: an open-label pilot study. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 92(8), 1202–1210.
Volpe, D., Pavan, D., Guiotto, A., Fichera, F., Scalchi, V., & Sawacha, Z. (2016). Effect of underwater gait training on Parkinson’s disease: Assessment through 3D underwater and on land gait analysis. Gait & Posture, 49, S25. Retrieved from
Volpe, D., & Giantin, M. (2014). Comparing the effects of hydrotherapy and land-based therapy on balance in patients with Parkinson’s disease: a randomized controlled pilot study. Clinical Rehabilitation, 28(12), 1210–1217. Retrieved from
Volpe, D., Giantin, M. G. M., Manuela, P., Filippetto, C., Pelosin, E., Abbruzzese, G., & Antonini, A. (2016). Water-based vs. non-water-based physiotherapy for rehabilitation of postural deformities in Parkinson’s disease: A randomized controlled pilot study. Clinical Rehabilitation, Epub ahead.
Zotz, T. G. G., Souza, E. A., Israel, V. L., & Loureiro, A. P. C. (2013). Aquatic physical therapy for Parkinson’s disease. Advances in Parkinson’s Disease, 02(04), 102–107.