Currently, there is a deficit of objective data showing the efficacy of aquatic exercise therapy in improving function in individuals with rheumatic disease. The purpose of this study was to quantify the effectiveness of aquatic therapy in changing joint motion, functional status, assistance, pain, and difficulty in 13 subjects with rheumatic disease. Active joint motion and Functional Status Index scores of assistance, pain, and difficulty were taken prior to and following 8 weeks of aquatic therapy. Multivariate analysis of variance, analysis of covariance procedure controlling for pain, and a Pearson correlation between active joint motion and Functional Status Index changes and between assistance, pain, and difficulty scores of the Functional Status Index were conducted. Results showed a significant difference between the pre and post means of active joint motion, Functional Status Index, pain, and difficulty (p < .05); a significant, negative relationship between pain and active joint motion of select joints; and positive correlations between assistance and pain, assistance and difficulty, and pain and difficulty. The decreased pain and difficulty experienced in performing daily tasks contributed significantly (94%) to the overall increased functional status and active joint motion for select joints. These findings support aquatic therapy as an effective means of increasing joint flexibility and functional ability while reducing pain and difficulty with daily tasks.
J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1996;23(6):376-381.
Key Words: aquatic therapy, rheumatic disease, pain, function