Hydrotherapy, or Aquatic Therapy, is becoming an increasingly more popular intervention used by Physiotherapists. Here at PT Kids, in conjunction with Little Hiccups, we’re proud to be able to offer Hydrotherapy as one of our treatment choices. But what actually is Hydrotherapy?
Simply put, Hydrotherapy is Physiotherapy in a heated swimming pool. But why do we use this, and what benefits does it offer over more traditional land based therapies?
To understand this, we need to look deeper into what properties of the water we use. Hydrotherapy pools are slightly warmer than normal swimming pools, set at between 34-35degrees Celsius. It is this warming effect that offers one of the major advantages Hydro has over land-based therapy.
When submerged in warmer water we are able to gain better relaxation of tight muscle which allows us more joint range of movement, and a better chance of stretching out those tight and painful muscles.
Whilst in a Hydrotherapy pool, we are in a ‘gravity eliminated’ environment. This gives the body a weightlessness feeling, and using some simple supports such as floats and ‘noodles’ we can allow children to relax in a way that many simply cannot achieve on dry land.
Due to the gravity eliminated environment, we can utilise exercises and movement patterns in different ways. What is hard on dry land is easier in water, while what is easy on dry land is hard in water – think stepping up is hard on dry land as we have gravity pulling us back down, where as in the pool stepping up is easier due to the buoyancy given from being in the water. Due to the pressure of the water around us, we can use this to work on functional tasks such as walking with greater ease as the water around us supports our bodies, making it easier to stand unaided.
So what does all this actually mean, and what benefits do we gain from using Hydrotherapy?
- Reduced pain
- Faster recovery from surgery
- Re-education and encouragement of normal movement
- Allows standing in those who are unable to weight-bear out of the water – the buoyancy effect of water
- Improved walking technique
- Improved aerobic fitness levels
- Improved balance and coordination
- Increased strength of weak muscles
- Increased range of movement of your joints
- Improved independence and function
- Improved circulation
- Mobilising and lengthening your muscles
- Improve self-confidence
- Reduce the fear of falling
- A relaxing and calming experience
But most importantly, the thing we really love about Hydrotherapy… ITS FUN!
If you are interested in finding out more about Little Hiccups, the children’s charity who we provide hydrotherapy sessions in conjunction with, then do visit their website. They run a waiting list for children who are then invited to a block of hydrotherapy sessions which take place periodically thought the year.
Little Hiccups are a Leeds based support group that has been set up by parents who have children with special needs. Through personal experience they recognise the importance of allowing the parents and families of a child with a disability the opportunity to meet people in similar situations, to make friends and support each other.