Current Physiotherapy Management of Parkinson’s Disease: Is Aquatic Physiotherapy Utilised as a Treatment Modality?

Aan Fleur Terrens, Sze Ee Soh, Prue Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Little is known about the use of aquatic physiotherapy for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Recent systematic reviews indicate that aquatic physiotherapy has a positive impact on mobility, balance, and quality of life. This study aims to explore current practice in aquatic physiotherapy and identify barriers and enablers to using aquatic physiotherapy from a physiotherapist’s perspective. Physiotherapists currently treating people with PD were invited to complete an online survey. Potential differences in levels of confidence treating people with PD, or using aquatic physiotherapy, with years practising were explored. Free-text responses were thematically categorised. One hundred and thirteen physiotherapists completed the survey. The majority were aged 30–39 years (37%), practising in Australia (86%) and over half (56%) had been practising for > 11 years. One third used aquatic physiotherapy in PD. There was no difference in confidence levels among participants who used aquatic physiotherapy for people with PD, relative to the number of years they had practised (p = 0.13). An increased falls risk and medical fragility were reported as challenges in the aquatic environment. Overall, aquatic physiotherapy is not commonly utilised for people with PD, with therapist, environmental, and participant challenges identified. Updating clinical practice guidelines and ensuring therapist education may enhance uptake of aquatic physiotherapy for PD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-100
Number of pages7
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Aquatic Physiotherapy
  • Clinical Practice
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Intervention
  • Management
  • Parkinson’s Disease

Cite this