Hydrotherapy is physiotherapy prescribed exercise which is performed in a pool that is therapeutically heated to 34 degrees Celsius. The heat of the water increases blood flow which warms the muscles and joints providing relaxation and pain relief. Hydrotherapy is also effective for rehabilitation because the buoyancy of the water unloads body weight so there is minimal stress on your joints while you exercise, thus allowing greater freedom of movement.
Before commencing a hydrotherapy programme, the physiotherapist will perform a subjective examination to determine if you are able to exercise in water, as some conditions such as open wounds and low blood pressure may be contraindicated. This is also when goal setting for the hydrotherapy programme will occur. Following this, an objective physical examination will take place to find out your strength, range of movement and functional capabilities. Once the verbal and physical assessments are complete, a specific hydrotherapy programme will be designed for you by the physiotherapist to best suit your needs. The exercises will be demonstrated to you as well.
If you are a non-swimmer, you will still be able to participate with floatation devices or by remaining in the shallow end of the pool. If you are unable to weight bear, a hoist can be used to lower you into the water and there is usually a ramp going into the pool for those who have difficulty with stairs. All hydrotherapy sessions are fully supervised by a physiotherapist.
Hydrotherapy is used successfully to treat many conditions including:
Sports Injuries of Fractures:
-The buoyancy effect of exercising in water means that following an injury where you are unable to fully bear weight, you can still exercise and get a head start to recovery.
-If your injured body part has been immobilised in a splint or cast or is stiff following surgery, the decreased load on the joints will allow greater movement to help you regain range quicker.
-The warm temperature of the water will help ease pain and muscle spasm by warming up the joints and muscles.
-Increased circulation with hydrotherapy will reduce swelling.
-You can progress to increased weight bearing as you recover by exercising in shallower water before resuming full weight bearing exercise on land.
-Exercises performed in water are easier to do because of the buoyancy weight relief effect of the water. Therefore you can exercise more freely and regain range of movement and strength more quickly.
-With less load through the joints in the water, there is less pain.
-The therapeutically warm water will ease muscle spasm decreasing pain and improving movement.
-The improved circulation due to the warmth of the water and the pressure of water on the limbs will reduce swelling.
Chronic Conditions (Arthritis, Osteoporosis, Ankylosing Spondylitis)
-Hydrotherapy allows you to maintain long term cardiovascular fitness by providing a way to exercise regularly and safely with less stress on the joints.
-Good pain relief is gained from the therapeutic warmth which eases muscle spasm and improves circulation.
- It helps decrease swelling of painful joints by applying pressure from the water and also because of the improved blood supply to those joints.
-Hydrotherapy helps reduce deformity of joints because of the freedom of joint movement in water.
If you think hydrotherapy will benefit you, ask your physiotherapist for information.
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