Benefits of hydrotherapy
- Pain relief
- Reduce muscle spasms and relax tense muscles
- Increase range of motion in joints such as hips, knees, shoulders
- Strengthen weak muscles
- Increase circulation
- Improve balance, coordination and flexibility
- Re-educate paralysed muscles
Did you know that when you are in waist deep water you are only supporting 50% of your body weight and, if you are floating, this is reduced to 0%? One of the best ways to benefit from the healing properties of water is through hydrotherapy.
Hydrotherapy, also known as aquatic therapy, uses exercise pools which are heated to around 33 degrees Celsius. The water creates a sense of a weightlessness, taking pressure off joints to help strengthen muscles, improve flexibility and circulation, and reduce pain.
Brad Sculley is a specialist Exercise Physiologist at Optimum Health Solutions who has been teaching people the benefits of movement and hydrotherapy for nearly 20 years. Based in and around Sydney, Optimum Health Solutions offer a range of occupational and physical therapies along with specialised hydrotherapy services in several locations.
Brad and his team work with people of all abilities. “Absolutely anyone can do hydrotherapy and there are many benefits in general to getting our bodies moving,” he explains. “Exercise produces great results for our cardiovascular system, can reduce the risk of falls and reduce our chances of developing chronic health conditions. There are also important mental health and wellbeing benefits which help support our central nervous system.”
Hydrotherapy programs in particular can be tailored to an individual’s ability, level of comprehension, sensory needs, attention levels and perception. Brad says that hydrotherapy is used to assist a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, back pain, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, MS and Parkinson’s. It can also assist wheelchair users and people with injuries to explore greater range of movement.
“I have a client who sustained full quadriplegia from an accident and with hydrotherapy she was able to walk again in the water,” says Brad. “Five years later and she doesn’t miss a class. The water has provided her with a sense of freedom and she loves the company of other people that the one-on-one support provides.”
In the warmth of a heated pool, practitioners use buoyancy vests and floating devices to help relax muscles and separate joints ready for exercise. In addition, underwater treadmills, resistance flow jets, body weights and games can be used to encourage exercise.
Achieve Australia’s Support Coordinator, Billie Le, says that many clients have found that hydrotherapy is a unique way to achieve their exercise goals. “Hydrotherapy is different from regular land-based exercise programs, which can get tedious over time,” says Billie. “We find that the motivation to maintain an exercise program can be greater if it’s linked to hydrotherapy.”
The support coordination team have found that the facilities at Optimum Health Solutions cater well for people with disability and the staff are knowledgeable about the NDIS. “Optimum Health Solutions are one of the few NDIS registered allied health centres, which have both allied health professionals and a pool on site, making it more convenient when accessing the services,” says Billie.
At home, you can also enjoy the healing benefits of water by taking a warm bath with Epsom salts, adding a few drops of lavender oil to a foot soak to release stress, or by having a dip in the ocean this summer.
For more information about hydrotherapy, visit opt.net.au