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The Use of Aquatics in Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Rehabilitation and Physical Conditioning

Kevin E. Wilk, David Joyner. pp. 200 SLACK Incorporated, 2013. ISBN: 978-1556429514

This new book outlines the benefits of Aquatic Therapy (hydrotherapy), in use for centuries and now advanced to a high level of sophistication using underwater treadmills, water jets and video, by specialist Aquatic Therapists.

It is aimed at physical therapists and athletic trainers considering introducing Aquatic Therapy into their existing treatment regimens.

Editors Kevin Wilk, a physical therapist based in Birmingham, Alabama, has a distinguished career in rehabilitation, research and education, and David Joyner, an orthopaedic physician and director of athletics at Penn State University, has an equally distinguished career in elite level Sports Medicine, and is a former athlete.

This book has ten chapters by doctors, physical therapists, athletic coaches and academics, from the fields of rehabilitation and athletic performance. It is divided into four sections and appendices:

Section 1 Pre-use and Preparation

The history, theory and applications of Aquatic Therapy, emphasising physiological benefits. Guidelines and indications for Aquatic Therapy, covering pool selection, facility design and engineering considerations, stressing the need for collaboration between designers and end-users when planning aquatic facilities for orthopaedic rehabilitation.

Section 2 Post-injury, Intervention and Treatments

Four chapters cover exercises for lower and upper limbs, progressing through stages from warm up to return to sport, including sports-specific exercises, plus Aquatic Therapy for spinal conditions and chronic pain.

Section 3 Conditioning and Training

Chapters on strength training, conditioning and sports specific exercise are aimed at those working with athletes aiming for peak performance and avoidance of injury.

Section 4 Research and Evidence

Research evidence for the physiological benefits of Aquatic Therapy.


Ten appendices outline specific post-operative rehabilitation protocols, which seem to be aimed more at fitness professionals than physical therapists, but only three of these are primarily aquatic therapy. The other seven are predominantly land-based, with inclusion of some elements of Aquatic Therapy. Some illustrations of the exercises outlined would be helpful.

The book is well written, but photographs in sections 1 to 3 are dark and grainy. Diagrammatic illustrations of aquatic techniques rather than the black and white photographs, many of which are unclear, would have aided interpretation.

Reviewed by Ms Janice Morton, Physiotherapist