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Study Finds Aquatic Physical Therapy Viable Treatment for Fibromyalgia (FM)

  [ 281 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • September 26, 2001

Researchers at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore found Aquatic Physical Therapy to be a viable treatment option in the management of Fibromyalgia symptoms, and the improvement of self-concept. This was according to the September 13, 2001 issue of the Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain.

The researchers set out to examine two of the benefits and relationships between one on one aquatic physical therapy (APT) and cardiovascular fitness and self-concept in individuals with Fibromyalgia (FM). Additionally, the researchers set out to discover the relative safety of APT for FM patients. Their analyses suggested that APT might be a practical alternative treatment mode for the management of FMS. The participants clearly benefited from participating in APT and showed significant gains in special-psychological well-being, as well as physical improvement.

A small sample size of nine patients was referred to a private physical therapy clinic to commence APT. Each participant met the 1990 ACR criteria for FM, had a medical diagnosis of FM, and could walk for six minutes on a treadmill at a self-selected pace. Participants completed the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) and underwent a six-minute sub maximal treadmill test prior to, and following 12 sessions of APT. All data were analyzed with descriptive statistics and one tailed dependent samples/paired t-tests to examine pre and post treatment differences.

Preliminary results showed that prior to aquatic treatment, the patients’ baseline heart rates steadily decreased following the twelve sessions. These physical benefits however were not the most significant benefit of the exercise. The self-concept of each participant greatly improved following APT. In comparing before and after FIQ results, levels of anxiety tended to decrease, physical function, stiffness, pain, fatigue, restfulness and days of feeling well, all showed positive improvement. Job difficulty and depression associated with FM also improved.

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