The purpose of this retrospective pilot study was to determine if aquatic therapy (AT) intervention concurrent with occupational therapy (OT) yielded greater functional gains in stroke patients than OT treatment alone. A retrospective chart review was conducted evaluating subjective data from an inpatient rehabilitation hospital in Morgantown, WV. Thirty-nine stroke survivor charts were examined. Patients who received OT with or without concurrent aquatic therapy were included.
Differences were examined in the Functional Independence Measure (FIM) scores in patients who received (a) AT plus conventional OT or (b) conventional OT alone. Discharge bed/chair transfer (p = 0.009) and locomotion (p = 0.01) scores were higher for people who received OT and AT versus patients only receiving OT. Linear regression indicated AT treatment predicted discharge bed/chair transfer FIM score (p = 0.02), discharge locomotion (walking) FIM score (p = 0.002), discharge stairs FIM score (p = 0.04), and change in bed/chair transfer FIM score (p = 0.02). These findings indicate that AT, combined with OT, may predict success on specific FIM outcomes (e.g., bed/chair transfer FIM score, locomotion [walking] FIM score) in stroke patients.