Typically, whirlpool is a passive treatment where the patient is either sitting fully in a whirlpool bath or has a limb soaking in it for the reduction of muscle spasm, or if sterile, for wound management. Aquatic Therapy is a dynamic treatment in which the patient is engaged with the therapist in active participation.

Aquatic Physical Therapy is also not Water Aerobics. Aquatic therapy requires the skilled reasoning and decision making of a physical therapist who is knowledgeable in how to use the unique properties of water to enhance rehabilitation and speed recovery.

The physical therapist works one-on-one with the patient and designs a treatment plan specifically for each patient to work towards achieving functional goals.

Water aerobics is delivered in a group setting with multiple clients designed to maintain or improve general conditioning and supervised by an individual other than a physical therapist.