To evaluate the effects of an aquatic physiotherapy method (Halliwick-Therapy) upon mobility in the post-acute phase of stroke rehabilitation.
Randomized controlled trial.
Hospital for neurological rehabilitation.
Adult patients after first-ever stroke in post-acute inpatient rehabilitation at least two weeks after the onset of stroke (n = 30).
In the Halliwick-Therapy group (n = 14) the treatment over a period of two weeks included 45 minutes of aquatic therapy three times per week and a conventional physiotherapeutic treatment twice a week. Subjects in the control group (n = 16) received conventional physiotherapeutic treatment over a period of two weeks five times per week.
The primary outcome variable was postural stability (Berg Balance Scale). Secondary outcome variables were functional reach, functional gait ability and basic functional mobility.
Compared to the control group, significantly more subjects in the Halliwick-Therapy group (83.3% versus 46.7%) attained significant improvement of the Berg Balance Scale (P < 0.05). Improvement of the functional gait ability was significantly higher in the Halliwick-Therapy group (mean (SD) 1.25(0.86)) than in the control group (mean (SD) 0.73 (0.70)) (P < 0.1). The mean differences of improvements in functional reach and basic functional mobility were not statistically significant between groups.
This study indicates that Halliwick-Therapy is safe and well tolerated in stroke patients in post-acute rehabilitation and has positive effects upon some aspects of mobility.