[Abstract] Evaluating the effectiveness of aquatic therapy on mobility, balance, and level of functional independence in stroke rehabilitation: a systematic review and meta-analysis

To meta-analyze and systematically review the effectiveness of aquatic therapy in improving mobility, balance, and functional independence after stroke.

Articles published in Medline, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Scopus up to 20 August 2019.

Studies met the following inclusion criteria: (1) English, (2) adult stroke population, (3) randomized or non-randomized prospectively controlled trial (RCT or PCT, respectively) study design, (4) the experimental group received >1 session of aquatic therapy, and (5) included a clinical outcome measure of mobility, balance, or functional independence.

Participant characteristics, treatment protocols, between-group outcomes, point measures, and measures of variability were extracted. Methodological quality was assessed using Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) tool, and pooled mean differences (MD) ± standard error and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated for Functional Reach Test (FRT), Timed Up and Go Test (TUG), gait speed, and Berg Balance Scale (BBS).

Nineteen studies (17 RCTs and 2 PCTs) with a mean sample size of 36 participants and mean PEDro score of 5.6 (range 4–8) were included. Aquatic therapy demonstrated statistically significant improvements over land therapy on FRT (MD = 3.511 ± 1.597; 95% CI: 0.381–6.642; P = 0.028), TUG (MD = 2.229 ± 0.513; 95% CI: 1.224–3.234; P < 0.001), gait speed (MD = 0.049 ± 0.023; 95% CI: 0.005–0.094; P = 0.030), and BBS (MD = 2.252 ± 0.552; 95% CI: 1.171–3.334; P < 0.001).

While the effect of aquatic therapy on mobility and balance is statistically significant compared to land-based therapy, the clinical significance is less clear, highly variable, and outcome measure dependent.

via Evaluating the effectiveness of aquatic therapy on mobility, balance, and level of functional independence in stroke rehabilitation: a systematic review and meta-analysis – Alice Mary Iliescu, Amanda McIntyre, Joshua Wiener, Jerome Iruthayarajah, Andrea Lee, Sarah Caughlin, Robert Teasell,

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