Aquatic therapy service helps patients heal faster

By: Gene Hanson
From: Liberty Tribune Business, March, 2008

Aquatic therapy is not necessarily a new type of physical therapy, but it is becoming more popular for several reasons.

It is less painful than traditional physical therapy, or land therapy. Insurance health care managers like it because therapy can begin earlier in the healing process, and petients are likely to have fewer therapy sessions.

Northland Physical Therapy and Rehab Services has been watching the trend and has added aquatic therapy to its new facility at 9151 N.E. 81st Terrace in Liberty. It already offers aquatic therapy at its Interstate 29 and Barry Road location.

It is the only physical therapy service in the Northland that offers the service as part of its treatment program."

&We have found it is the best way to rehabilitate patients," said Frank Ferrantelle, who owns the facilities. "Patients favor it because it is a lot less painful. Our aquatic facility on Barry Road is full all the time."

Northland Physical Therapy started in North Kansas City in 1968. Ferrantelle bought it in 1990, and six years later added a facility in Liberty. He opened the facility on Barry Road three years ago.

"We have found it is the best way to rehabilitate patients. Patients favor it because it is a lot less painful.”

— Frank Ferrantelle, Owner, Northland Physical Therapy

"By law, we can only administer therapy at the direction of a physician," Ferrantelle said. "But they see the benefits that aquatic therapy can bring."

The benefit of aquatic therapy is the buoyancy provided by the water, which supports the weight of the patient. It makes it easier for patients to exercise, especially those with broken bones, arthritis or those who are overweight. It takes the pressure, and the pain, off the affected area and allows the patient to exercise more freely.

The viscosity or the water also provides an excellent source of resistance and allows for muscle strengthening without the need for weights.

"Nearly 50 percent of our patients use aquatic therapy," Ferrantelle said. "And 99 percent of them benefit. It gets the patients better faster."

The aquatic pool in Liberty, for example, is geared to create a current of water that can reach a speed of more than six miles per hour.

"The movement of the water is not like a jet stream,” said physical therapist Jason Parker. "It is a consistent wall of water that creates the resistance needed for physical exercise and therapy. Almost any diagnosis from the neck down can be treated with aquatic therapy."

He said most patients receive aquatic therapy for pain in the lower extremities, shoulders and lower back, and not all of it is post operative.

Some patients who are excessively overweight or in severe pain can be lifted into the pool in a chair attached to a hydraulic lift. Both chair and patient are immersed in the water. The water then provides the buoyancy so the patient can move about freely.

Northland Physical Therapy also offers treatment for patients with jaw disorders, and is often chosen by oral surgeons for non‐surgical or after‐surgery care.

It also offers a wide variety of other physical therapy treatments. For more information, visit the Web site at