Effects of aquatic therapy on balance in older adults: a systematic review
Verdejo Ríos, Fernando Iván
Flores Vélez, Diana Milagros
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The aim of this systematic review is to identify an critically appraise the research evidence for the use of aquatic therapy to improve balance in older adults, with the goal of developing guidelines that will help physical therapists in choosing and using this type of intervention in patients with poor balance. This review will provide some recommendations for researchers in designing additional investigations using aquatic therapy to improve balance in elderly people. A systematic research was performed using medical databases from which studies meeting the inclusion criteria were collected. The critical appraisals of evidence were done by using the PEDro scale and the SORT grading scale. The data were collated based on intervention and significant outcomes. Ten articles were found about the effects of aquatic therapy on balance in older adults: two high quality studies, three moderate quality and five poor quality studies. Only high and moderate quality studies were used to analyze significant outcomes. Participants demonstrated improvements in Berg Balance Scale, Functional Reach test, Dynamic Gait Index, Timed Up and Go test, Step test and the Tinetti Performance Oriented Assessment of Balance and Gait tool. Further high quality trials are needed with larger sample sizes and using reliable and valid balance measures to compare land and aquatic exercises. This review supports the use of aquatic therapy as an alternative to land-based exercises for older adults who have difficulty exercising on land due to fear falls, poor balance, pain or lack of motivation.