Hydrotherapy: What Is It and How Can It Help?
There’s something blissful about being in water. If you’re living with a painful or debilitating condition, water offers a sense of freedom. As the water supports you and bears some of your weight, you’re more able to exercise sore joints or walk without fear of falling.
That’s why many people find that hydrotherapy (or aquatic physiotherapy) gives them a greater sense of wellbeing than land-based exercise. Hydrotherapy is an effective treatment for many musculoskeletal and neurological conditions. We’ve been offering it at Neurospace for a long time because it works so well and our patients love it so much.
Want to know more about hydrotherapy? Read on to learn how it works and how it helps.
Hydrotherapy: What Is It and How Can It Help?
What Is Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy pools are different from regular swimming pools. The water is warm and often shallow enough to stand in. There are usually a few different ways to enter the pool, like a step, a ramp or a hoist, because it’s there for people recovering from injuries or managing conditions that affect their movement.
You can find these pools in a few places. Some local council pools have a hydrotherapy pool attached, many retirement communities have one, and some specialist physiotherapists have their own.
How Does it Work?
Life is different in the water, simply because of the water. Depending on the aims of your treatment, we can use calm or turbulent water, create a current for you to resist, or give you the sensation of floating weightlessly. It’s about creating the right level of challenge to help you make progress.
With the water bearing some of your weight, you feel more able to stretch and strengthen the sore parts of your body to promote healing. It gives you more confidence to work on joints that are weak or painful without fear of falling because the water supports you.
Hydrotherapy is a soothing, relaxing and surprisingly effective way to:
- Improve your joint flexibility
- Improve your muscle flexibility
- Gain strength
- Develop better coordination
- Build endurance.
There are many different exercises you can do in a pool. You might practice walking through the water to improve balance and strength, do specific exercises for your condition, swim to aid fitness, control and flexibility. Relaxation is another benefit.
Your therapist is always there with you, ensuring that you’re safe and appropriately challenged by the exercise.
What Conditions Is Hydrotherapy Used For?
Hydrotherapy is used for:
- Musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis, joint replacements or back pain
- Neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and traumatic brain injury
- Cardiopulmonary conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
What’s the Evidence for Hydrotherapy?
For musculoskeletal conditions, hydrotherapy has been shown to reduce pain and disability while improving exercise capacity and quality of life. People also felt a greater sense of wellbeing than they usually did after land-based exercise. It is also useful when recovering from surgery; the buoyancy of the water means there is less load on your joints and muscles and movement is easier and can start your rehabilitation earlier.
Hydrotherapy was found to be much more effective than land-based exercise in improving endurance and quality of life for people living with COPD.
A Spanish study found that hydrotherapy may reduce pain, spasms, disability, fatigue and depression in people with MS while improving autonomy. A small study of people with Parkinson’s disease found that hydrotherapy improved their balance.
Is Hydrotherapy Safe During COVID-19?
Many things have changed due to COVID-19, including pool closures and a rapid shift to telehealth for most consultations. Restrictions are gradually easing but the situation is still new and advice changes regularly.
At Neurospace, we are following public health advice to protect our staff and our patients, as many are particularly vulnerable to the disease.
Rather than give a definite answer here, it’s best to call our clinic on 6162 0450 to ask about the most up-to-date advice on hydrotherapy during COVID-19. Hydrotherapy pools are starting to reopen in the ACT, with strict limits on the number of people in the pool and surrounding areas at one time and increased cleaning protocols.
Would Hydrotherapy Help Me?
Before answering that, we’d need to assess you. We’d discuss your condition and your treatment goals then, if appropriate, recommend hydrotherapy.
At Neurospace, we’re particularly focused on helping people manage long-standing or difficult-to-treat conditions. We’ve found that hydrotherapy has been a very positive experience for many of our patients.
If you’d like to know more, please call us on 6162 0450.