The effect of aquatic physical therapy in patients with stroke: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Sara Giuriati, Annamaria Servadio, Giulia Temperoni, Andrea Curcio, Donatella Valente, Giovanni Galeoto

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the literature reports of qualitative and quantitative results of physical therapy treatments in the alternative aquatic setting for individuals affected by strokes. Method: PRISMA guidelines were used to carry out the systematic review and meta-analysis. Three bibliographic databases were searched: MEDLINE, PEDro, and the Cochrane Library. Papers included in the study were required to: (a) have a randomized controlled trial (RCT) design of research; and (b) be published in English; (c) be published during the last 10 years (2008–2018). Only randomized controlled trials were employed in the study. The quality of the clinical trials to be included was evaluated according to the Jadad scale. The internal validity was assessed according to the PEDro scale. Results: Eleven RCTs were initially identified in the systematic review. Eight of these were involved in the meta-analysis comparing outcomes and follow-up. Eight studies received a Jadad score of three, indicating a high level of quality. The remaining three studies achieved a lower score which indicated lower qualitative level. Nearly all of the results of the quantitative analysis were statistically significant (P < 0,05) and most of them favored of the experimental group subject to aquatic treatment. Conclusion: Aquatic physical therapy may be a valid means for the rehabilitation of people affected by stroke. The integration of this methodological approach with conventional physical therapy should be considered. However, more studies; a larger number of participants; and varying lengths of follow-up times are necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-32
Number of pages14
JournalTopics in Stroke Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • aquatic exercise
  • Aquatic therapy
  • aquatic treatment
  • hydrotherapy
  • outcome measure
  • quality of life
  • stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Community and Home Care
  • Clinical Neurology

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