"...is a part of medicine, in particular of occupational therapy and physiotherapy, that involves the use of water for pain relief and treatment. The term encompasses a broad range of approaches and therapeutic methods that take advantage of the physical properties of water, such as temperature and pressure, for therapeutic purposes, to stimulate blood circulation and treat the symptoms of certain diseases." -Wikipedia
Hydrotherapy is a well-established treatment modality used in many different forms in modern medicine. The versatile physical properties of water allow it to be used in the form of ice, liquid water or steam for various therapeutic purposes. Among some of the most commonly used treatments are locally applied compresses, local hot or cold immersions, full-body immersions, alternating hot and cold, cryotherapy and exercises in warm water (aquatic therapy).
Being a widely available, nontoxic substance that comes in three different states allows water to serve as a convenient means for delivering heat or cold to the body. The profound physiological effects of changing the temperature locally or systemically form the basis for the effectiveness of hydrotherapy applications.
Fields such as physical and occupational therapy, sports medicine, as well as wound and burn care have excelled in the use and development of hydrotherapy, while other specialties make use of it more sparingly. Many hospitals have aquatic therapy pools, tanks and whirlpools in use for the above disciplines, for example, most hospital burn units have fully equipped hydrotherapy rooms.
Though hydrotherapy is widely accepted in certain fields of medicine, it may also have potential usefulness for conditions not conventionally treated with it. Recently, increasing research has been done in some of these areas.
Hydrotherapy is a useful and effective treatment modality based on scientific principles. Beneficial effects include muscle relaxation, enhanced circulation and increased immune responses. Some forms of hydrotherapy can safely be done at home as well.
See also the Hydro Blog "What is Hydrotherapy" 8/23/13, for links that give a comprehensive overview of hydrotherapy.
Hydroreference.com will strive to be a resource central for the art and science of hydrotherapy, to offer information about ongoing research, evidence-based techniques and safety guidelines, as well as resources for education about hydrotherapy.
Click on the above thumbnail to see images
from the history of hydrotherapy.
It should be noted that hydrotherapy treatments can result in serious injury or complications under some circumstances. Prior medical advice should always be sought and extreme caution taken when performing any kind of hydrotherapy treatments for individuals with chronic diseases or decreased skin sensitivity. Hydroreference.com does not recommend the use of hydrotherapy for any condition without prior consultation with a physician or qualified healthcare provider.