This article originally appeared in Generation Magazine’s December 2013 issue.
One-third of the population over the age of 65 falls each year, and the risk increases proportionately with age. At 80 years, over half of seniors fall annually. Those who take a spill often develop a fear of falling. Fear gone unchecked may lead to limiting activities and loss of physical fitness, increasing risk of falling.
In these situations, it’s important to consider alternate interventions for the elderly — especially for those with joint pain and medical conditions that restrict land training. A recent study from University of California, San Francisco found that water exercises were more effective in improving balance than land exercises.
The buoyancy of the water helps patients stay upright and reduces their fear of falling. The water’s resistance allows patients more time to detect and correct postural errors that may lead to a fall. With aquatherapy, there is less chance for injury, and patients are able to push the limits with their balance, allowing for quicker carry over to functional, land-based activities.
The Endless Pool’s adjustable current offers a unique environment to challenge patients with speed, resistance and water depth, allowing them to advance to higher levels of stability and strength. Seniors are taught center of gravity control, postural strategies, gait exercises, strength, endurance and flexibility training.
Aquatherapy, with the Endless Pool, offers many benefits and should be seen as the modality of the future for fall prevention for the elderly.