What is Hydrotherapy? Its Application, Indications, Contraindications & Precautions
Hydrotherapy refers to the use of multi-depth immersion pools or tanks that
facilitate the application of various established therapeutic interventions including
stretching, joint mobilization, strengthening etc.
Application: To cure musculo-skeletal problems.
Indications for hydrotherapy:
1. Muscular problems: Muscular weakness, Muscle spasm, Tightness or contracture
2. Bony or skeletal problems: Inflammatory conditions of spine, Arthritis of
various joints, Post fracture stiffness.
3. Neurological Problems: Paralytic condition like polio, spinal cord injury,
1. Facilitate ROM exercises.
2. Initiate resistance exercises.
3. Facilitate weight exercises.
4. Facilitate cardiovascular exercises.
5. Enhance patient relaxation.
Properties of water:
Buoyancy: it is the upward force that works opposite to gravity. Buoyancy
provides the patient with relative weightlessness and joint unloading allowing
performance of active motion easily.
Hydrostatic pressure: it is the pressure exerted on the immersed objects. This
increased pressure reduces or limits effusion, assists venous return, induces Brady
cardia, and centralizes peripheral blood flow.
Viscosity: it is friction occurring between molecules of liquid resulting in resistance
to flow. It creates resistance to all active movements.
Surface tension: the surface of the fluid acts a membrane under tension. Surface
tension is measured as force per unit length. An extremity that moves through the surface will perform more work than if kept under water.
Hydromechanics: Hydromechanics is the physical properties and characteristics
of fluid in motion.
Laminar flow: Movements where all molecules move parallel to each other,
typically slow movement.
Turbulent flow: movement where molecules do not move parallel to each other,
typically faster movements.
Drag: the cumulative effects of turbulence and fluid viscosity acting on a object
Center of buoyancy: the center of buoyancy is the reference point of an immersed
object upon which buoyant forces of fluid act. In vertical position, the
human center is located at the sternum.
Application of hydrotherapy in treatment:
1. Strengthening of muscle: the water provides a remarkable environment to
produce very fine exercise progression and it provides more resistance than air.
Muscles are strengthened by resistance may be offered by upward force, turbulence
force etc. Even manual resistance can be applied along with it.
2. Endurance training: muscular endurance refers to how many times the patient
can repeat a particular activity inside water. The endurance activity can be
performed against buoyancy, turbulence.
3. Joint mobility: relief of pain and muscle spasm by the warmth of the water
and by the support of buoyancy can restore free movement of joint.
4. Co-ordination and balance: the buoyancy of water relieves the patient from
weight and makes the activities like walking and step climbing easy.
5. Pain relief: hydrotherapy pool improves circulation and enable tissue fluid to
flow through the tissues thus facilitates removal of metabolites and improves
1. Infective wounds
3. cardiac failure
4. Deep vein thrombosis.
5. Gastro intestinal disorder
6. Hypo or Hypertension
8. Low vital lung capacity
1. AIDS – The person suffering from AIDS should not be allowed in pool if any
have a recent cut.
2. If the person is mentally retarded.
3. If the person is wearing contact lens.
4. If the person is wearing any hearing aids.
5. Patients have fear of water.
6. Cardiac dysfunction: patients with angina and abnormal blood pressure require
7. Patients with epilepsy.