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What is hydrotherapy and what does it do?


What is hydrotherapy? This is a common question that we get asked in our physiotherapy department. The term hydrotherapy is derived from the Greek Hydro, meaning Water, and Therapia, meaning Healing. We often give advice to those who are looking for help post-surgery and hydrotherapy is a useful modality to assist in recovery.

What is hydrotherapy: Important facts on hydrotherapy

  • It helps with muscular relaxation as well as muscle spasms and tightness.
  • The warmth of the water (34) supports pain relief.
  • The water resistance aids with muscle strength and endurance.
  • Balance and stability are improved.
  • It is enjoyable!
  • The hydrostatic pressure aids swelling.
  • It helps with the improvement of general fitness.
  • It aids joint mobilisation.
  • Patients do not need to be able to swim to benefit from hydrotherapy.

What is hydrotherapy: Case Study

Phillip has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. He also has severe learning difficulties. His lower limbs are affected, and therefore he spends his time in his wheelchair. Because he has thoracic scoliosis, he has had a full spinal rod fitted. This is when they fix his spine to prevent any further movement, which would cause discomfort and would affect the efficacy of his vital organs.

Hydrotherapy is extremely appropriate for Phillip because he has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. This means that he has abnormally high muscle tone in his lower extremities, which causes difficulty with all voluntary and passive movements. This high muscle tone causes pain and muscle spasms.

Phillip has had a right proximal femoral excision following his body rejecting a hip replacement. His right hamstrings have been cut to aid with range of motion and comfort. The left hamstrings have become very hypertonic (tight), causing discomfort. Phillip holds himself in a flexed position, both in his wheelchair and when he sleeps, with a full range of motion and strength in his upper limbs. His lower limbs are severely affected. He is incontinent and requires hoist transfers.

Phillip has so far benefitted from four sessions in the hydrotherapy pool. His hypertonic muscles ease off, causing him less discomfort. Improving his circulation is vital as he spends his time in his wheelchair, and is unable to reposition himself. The warm water and buoyancy aids this immensely. Phillip gains a fantastic therapeutic effect with hydrotherapy, and very much enjoys the sessions.
hydro_photo_2 hydro_photo_1

Photos of Phillip, his Mother and Sophie Lane (Physiotherapist) in the Keech Cottage Hydrotherapy Pool. Used with permission.

What is hydrotherapy: How hydrotherapy can help

Hydrotherapy can aid conditions such as:

  • whiplash and neck pain
  • back pain and sciatica
  • sports injuries
  • fibromyalgia
  • Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and stroke
  • cerebral palsy
  • osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • back and pelvic pain during pregnancy
  • ankylosing spondylosis
  • hemiplegia
  • rehabilitation post-joint replacement, or tendon/ligament repairs.

For more information about Hydrotherapy

If you would like additional information about this or to discuss how we may be able to help with your queries please contact us using the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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