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This page was last updated: April 27th, 2022

The Hydrotherapy Service provides treatment, by a physiotherapist, for a wide range of people with varying conditions and abilities. The pool is purpose built and easily accessible. It is kept at a temperature of between 34 and 35.5 degrees Celsius. The warmth and properties of the water make movement more comfortable, whilst helping to improve strength and function.

Where to find us

The hydrotherapy pool is situated within Dolphin House, Trelawney Wing at RCHT. Currently there is building work in the car park in front of Dolphin House, so if you are coming to the department, you will need to park in the main car park opposite the Trelawney entrance. Walk through the Trelawney entrance and about half way down the corridor take a left turn through the Trauma Assessment Unit. Walk all the way through to the end, through the double doors to a covered walkway. The hydrotherapy department is at the end of this walkway.

What is Hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy (or Aquatic Therapy as it is also known) is a form of Physiotherapy where specific exercises are carried out in a purpose-built warm pool that is kept between 34 and 35.5 degrees Celsius and carried out by an appropriately trained person.

The benefits of water based exercise have been well recognised for thousands of years – dating as far back as the Ancient Greek and Roman civilisations.

Our pool serves a wide range of people and abilities. Its ease of access and calm environment all help to provide a relaxed atmosphere where patients can enjoy and benefit from their treatment and hopefully be inspired to continue on afterwards

What are the benefits of hydrotherapy?

  • The warm water helps the muscles to relax which can ease pain and muscle spasm and make exercise easier.
  • The buoyancy of the water helps to support body weight, which can relieve pressure on joints, reduce pain and increase your movement.
  • Exercise against the resistance of the water can improve muscle strength, co-ordination, endurance and balance.
  • Hydrotherapy can help improve circulation and reduce swelling.
  • Hydrotherapy can help to improve general physical condition and well-being. It creates a sense of achievement as well as enhanced relaxation. It promotes social interaction.
  • It helps with re-education of functional activities using the support of buoyancy and enables unencumbered movement

As hydrotherapy is a combination of the effects of immersion and exercise, consideration should also be given to the benefits of exercise alone. These have been described as:

  • Improved cardiovascular and respiratory function
  • Improved neuromuscular and physical performance
  • Improved posture and appearance
  • Relief of tension
  • Stimulation of mental activity
  • Increased general feeling of health and well being
  • Delaying the ageing process

What conditions can benefit from Hydrotherapy?

The beauty of hydrotherapy is its suitability to a wide range of patients and its ability to treat the whole body as well as specific joints. Some examples:

  • Low Back Pain
  • Post fracture/orthopaedic surgery
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Fibromyalgia syndrome or people with global conditions with 2 or more joints affected
  • Neurological conditions or events, eg MS, Parkinson’s, stroke or spinal cord injuries
  • Multiple trauma
  • Fallers
  • Hypermobility Syndrome
  • Paediatric conditions, eg Perthes, Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
  • Stiff and painful joints which are too painful to treat ‘on land’

Do I need to be a strong swimmer?

You do not need to be able to swim to use our hydrotherapy pool. The pool is 4 feet deep as you enter and 4 feet 6 inches at its deepest. There is a rail the whole way around the pool.

Please let the Physiotherapist know if you are feeling nervous or anxious about your treatment. You will be supervised and assisted throughout your hydrotherapy session.

Are there any side effects?

The warmth of the water and exercise may make you feel tired – this is perfectly normal and should improve after a few sessions.

After treatment it is advisable to have a shower. This will remove the chlorine from your skin and help you to cool down before you get dressed.

We have a water fountain located in the pool waiting area and we encourage you to have a drink after each session. You may bring your own water bottle poolside.
If at any stage you feel faint, dizzy and generally unwell or experience chest pain you must tell your Physiotherapist.

How do I get a hydrotherapy referral?

Your GP or consultant may refer you for hydrotherapy if he/she feels it might be beneficial. Alternatively, if you are already receiving physiotherapy treatment, the therapist can also refer you to hydrotherapy.

Your appointment will be arranged by the booking office initially, then any follow up appointments by the hydrotherapy team. Each session lasts for approximately 30 minutes. There will be up to 4 patients in the pool at one time, but your programme will be individually tailored towards your needs. You will have been assessed before this either by your physiotherapist or by one of the Hydrotherapy Physiotherapists.

The sessions are run with both you and the Physiotherapist or Technical Instructor/assistant in the pool, where you will complete a variety of exercises appropriate to your condition.

Hydrotherapy is not appropriate if you are experiencing any of the following

  • Feeling generally unwell
  • Open wounds or skin infections
  • Cold, virus, raised temperature
  • Diarrhoea and, or vomiting – must be at least 3 days clear of symptoms
  • Incontinence
  • Angina, cardiac and respiratory conditions (or under investigation) – this will be discussed and screened further by your referring Physiotherapist prior to hydrotherapy.
  • Shortness of breath on lying flat
  • Weight over 25 stone (due to the capacity of the hoisting equipment)

Our facilities

  • 4ft in the shallow end, 4ft 6” in the deep end
  • Temperature maintained between 34-35.5°C.
  • Shallow steps to access with 2 handrails
  • Hand rails throughout the perimeter of the pool
  • Hoist available for pool entry, chair or bed
  • Curtained cubicles for dressing
  • Showers poolside and lockers available for valuables

What happens when I am discharged?

Hydrotherapy pool with chair hoist visible.On average, we are only able to see you for up to 6 sessions in our pool. Not only do we encourage a self-management healthcare ethos but due to high referral rates we need to ensure the service is available to all.

However, once you have completed your course of hydrotherapy we will encourage you to attend a local pool to carry on the exercises you have been shown.

Susan Horne - susan.horne1@nhs.netThis page was last updated on April 27th, 2022 at 02:30 pm

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