Our Aquatic Therapy program is run by Jim Modera, PT/Director.  Sessions are conducted at the Geneva YMCA pool by appointment only.

This method is based on Dr. Igor Burdenko’s educational background, as well as his personal experience with the water’s natural capacity for healing and physical conditioning. Although he received his PhD in Sports Medicine and went on to work in the Soviet athletic system for 25 years, what motivated Dr. Burdenko initially was watching his father’s remarkable recovery from numerous WWII injuries through the simple use of water.

Dr. Burdenko came to the US in 1981, where he refined a method that allows optimal freedom of movement and revitalization of the body. It begins with an environment that eliminates 90% of the body weight: deep water; and progresses to full weight bearing resistive exercises on land. Although there are many unique advantages to using water, the most important is the water’s ability to eliminate gravitational pull on the body, allowing it to move freely. This process of employing water to improve mobility is called the Burdenko Method.

Although there are many programs employing the advantages of water for healing, what distinguishes Dr. Burdenko’s method is the functional progression which follows normal human developmental sequences. This natural progression is based on the force of gravity and the body’s need for a stable base of support for movement in our extremities. The vertical position in deep water challenges our center of buoyancy and postural alignment. It strengthens trunk and pelvic stability – the basis for freedom of movement. The progression on land begins in the horizontal position, proceeding to sitting, then standing, and, finally, moving dynamically.

In a session, one will hear Dr. Burdenko say, “Visualize vertical.”, “That’s great.”, “You look beautiful.” All exercises are first learned in the static position, without movement; however, multidirectional movement of the whole body is an essential part of each exercise. As Dr. Burdenko says, “The Burdenko Method focuses on the qualities of movement”. One must first find one’s center of balance to experience freedom to move in the extremities. The first quality – Balance, is the base of the pyramid for establishing this freedom. (See Table) Next, one must learn to combine movement for optimal Coordination – the second quality. Flexibility – the third quality, is needed to enhance maneuverability while maintaining trunk stability. Once this is accomplished, one can progress to building Endurance, Quickness/Speed, and Strength, the final three qualities.

Unfortunately, most fitness and conditioning programs focus on the last three qualities and do not develop a solid foundation for movement. Many programs only use land based exercise regimes because using water as the primary medium for exercise is still somewhat new in western culture. The Burdenko Method uses a trunk buoyancy device that allows one to move freely in the vertical position in water. Finding one’s center of buoyancy and balance in deep water is the first step to experiencing pain-free freedom of movement (Level 1). Then, by adding a combination of movements in different planes (Vertical, Supine, and Prone) in deep water and with horizontal mat exercises on land, coordination develops (Level 2). Level 3 adds challenges with different equipment and environments to increase the natural force of gravity. (Refer to Table Levels 1-3).

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