What is Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy is quite simply rehabilitation that is conducted in a pool. For hundreds (even thousands) of years, water has been used for the relief and treatment of pain. Hydrotherapy (or aquatic physiotherapy) refers to water-based exercises and therapy sessions. This type of exercise therapy is particularly beneficial for seniors who may be experiencing lack of mobility, people recovering from surgery, and those with disabilities who are looking to improve their health and fitness, in a natural way with minimal risks.
When using hydrotherapy, water is utilised in different ways to affect the body. This may include using hydrotherapy to maintain and improve quality of life through decreasing pain and improving overall fitness levels and strength.
What is a Hydrotherapy Pool?
We posed the question, ‘what is a hydrotherapy pool?’ to our General Manger, Matthew Ternes:
There are two key elements of a hydrotherapy pool: warm water and accessibility. Since hydrotherapy is best conducted where the water temperature is around 30 degrees, most hydrotherapy pools are indoors. For accessibility, a hydrotherapy pool will either have a ramp, or a hoist or lift, which has the ability to safely lower someone, who is normally confined to a wheelchair, into the water.
The only Atkins Health clinic with a hydrotherapy pool is at the Gold Coast Performance Centre, Runaway Bay which has a lift. This provides access to the pool for people who cannot walk, have conditions that impact their gait in general or have severe cognitive impairments including Down Syndrome. We have one lane in the indoor hydrotherapy pool that we can utilise at any time. No one has their first initial assessment in the pool, we have to do an initial assessment in our clinic first and we then design the hydrotherapy treatment afterwards.
We can still source hydrotherapy pools outside of our Runaway Bay clinic, for example there is a fantastic facility at Palm Beach. However we would need to review availability of the pool in conjunction with a client’s appointment, and since that is a council facility, there would be additional fees to access the pool.
If accessibility is not an issue, we can also provide hydrotherapy on home visits if clients have access to their own swimming pool. We can provide bouyancy mats and dumbells and provide an amazing workout. Who knew you could use the wall of your own swimming pool as a leg press machine?
What does Hydrotherapy Involve?
Improving range of motion is a key focus for hydrotherapy pool-based exercises. For example if someone had a really chronic back injury that was highly sensitive, where even general walking around would cause a flare up, a hydrotherapy pool can provide comfort.
Typically we would start in the deep end of the pool and perform exercise sessions there. As flare ups started to decrease, we would start to progress our sessions to a more shallower part of the pool which would be half load-bearing and half not load-bearing. Then we would transition that back to load bearing exercises outside of the pool, so that would become another end goal, depending on the type of condition of course.
Who Can Benefit from Hydrotherapy?
Due to hydrotherapy being non-weight bearing, it is an excellent option for individuals looking to reduce impact through their weight bearing joints (such as hips, knees and ankles). For senior citizens or those with a physical disability, or if you are recovering from surgery, this is a form of exercise that can be less painful, with movements which are easier due to the immersion and support of warm water. For example, if you have a shoulder injury and you can only move it through a limited range of motion, that range increases in the warmth of a hydrotherapy pool.
Hydrotherapy can be particularly effective for many conditions which have resulted in pain or loss of motion and strength as a large focus on quality of movements is placed.
These conditions may include the following:
- Elderly looking to improve overall level of mobility
- Lower back pain
- Knee pain
- Neurological conditions
- Parkinson disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Multiple Systems Atrophy
- Sporting injuries
- Acute ankle/knee sprains
- Post immobilisation due to fracture
- Muscle strain or tears
Matthew tells of his experience working with clients suffering Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a very rare disease characterised by epilepsy that begins in early childhood, usually between ages 3 and 5.
People suffering from such a disease cannot always easily communicate through speech. Hydrotherapy opens up a different type of communication channel. We can place flotations around a client’s neck, buoyancy items on their armpits and we can get them to move around the pool with us and communicate and interact in other ways. We can work with people with physical impairments, cognitive disabilities, seizures, but of course more common reasons such as rehabilitation post-surgery. For example, we may work with clients who are recovering from recent knee surgery, to gain that range of motion back.
What are the Benefits of Hydrotherapy?
With so many benefits, it’s not surprising that more and more people seek hydrotherapy sessions near them. From improving senior health and fitness, to providing benefits such as reducing back pain and increasing elderly mobility – the perks are endless.
Here are a just a few of the benefits of hydrotherapy for seniors, people recovering from surgery and people with disabilities:
Most of us know how relaxing we feel after visiting the spa, as we experience the perks water therapy has to offer. The warm water allows our muscles to relax while also relieving joint pain.
Improved balance and strength are a few of the benefits seniors can experience from Hydrotherapy. The buoyancy of water permits a greater range of motion due to the virtual elimination of gravitational forces.
Looking to increase your muscle strength?
Your body will thank you for using a gentle form of resistance to increase strength. Slowly build up resistance with varying tools and resistance options – and see the results!
Water enables resistance training through gentle friction that’s perfect for strengthening and conditioning injuries – without the risk of losing your balance!
Aids Stiff Joints and Arthritis
When you have stiff joints, simply day to day tasks such as walking can be painful. With a lower impact on weight-bearing joints, hydrotherapy can aid in relieving pain while increasing the range of motion in the joint.
Are you a senior citizen or impacted with a disability and looking to improve health and decrease your muscle pain? We can provide a range of natural treatment plans to improve your fitness level, get in touch today!