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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Houston VA Uses Novel Aquatic Plyometrics to Advance Patient Rehab

July 9, 2008

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One popular plyometric exercise is jumping off one box and rebounding off the floor onto another, higher box. These exercises typically increase speed and strength and build power. Wounded in Iraq by an improvised explosive device, Army veteran Robert Engelbrecht enjoys his aquatic plyometrics session. “This is great. I can build up my strength without getting injured.”
PHOTO: Bobbi Gruner, Public Affairs Officer

 

HOUSTON – The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) uses aquatic plyometrics as an integral component of its rehabilitation program. Aquatic therapists at the MEDVAMC combine plyometric exercise with water to assist patients who have balance difficulties or are recovering from injury. This technique helps augment the rehabilitation process and may allow a patient to begin a difficult exercise program in a weight-limited environment.  

Plyometric exercises are specialized, training techniques used to develop strength and speed. Plyometric training involves high-intensity, explosive muscular contractions that invoke the stretch reflex; stretching the muscle before it contracts so that it contracts with greater force. The most common plyometric exercises include hops, jumps, and bounding movements. One popular plyometric exercise is jumping off one box and rebounding off the floor onto another, higher box. These exercises typically increase speed and strength and build power.

“Using the properties of water allows for increased ability to move and perform exercises that might be more difficult on land,” said Kyle Davis, RKT, ATRIC, kinesiotherapist. “Research has found that doing plyometric exercises in a swimming pool and using the benefits of buoyancy allows some patients to exercise to an intensity level they could not otherwise achieve.”

The primary goal of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the MEDVAMC is to help patients regain physical, psychological, and social functioning. This includes recovering skills as well as learning new strategies to accomplish everyday tasks. Rehabilitation Care Line staff work with each patient and his or her family to develop individual treatment programs that will maximize each patient’s potential and enable the veteran to achieve the highest level of independence possible.

Wounded in Iraq by an improvised explosive device, Army veteran Robert Engelbrecht is exhausted but happy after his 40-minute, aquatic plyometrics workout session. “This is great," he said. "It's an extremely tough and demanding therapy session, but not so taxing on my body. That's the most important factor – I can build up my strength without getting injured."

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