Hydrotherapy, water-based therapy (hydro = water), usually takes place in a small-size pool with warm water between 32-34°C, with the goal of strengthening, maintaining and improving the health of both body and mind.
Water-based therapy is beneficial to children with behavioral challenges, ADHD, migraines, emotional issues, low self-confidence and PDD, as well as many other difficulties.
Adults contending with back pain, slipped disk, issues of skeletal or muscular degeneration, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s or post-trauma stress also have much to gain from hydrotherapy.
Forms of hydrotherapy have been in use since the earliest times, dating back thousands of years when water treatments were common in ancient Greek and Roman bathhouses.
During the Renaissance, bath houses were once again used for health treatments, and in 1697, Sir John Floyer, English physician and author, introduced the word “hydrotherapy” in scientific literature, describing the positive and negative effects of hot and cold water.
During the same period, the Rambam, Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, the famous Jewish physician, published works strongly suggesting that every father is required to expose his children to water and teach them how to swim.
Hydrotherapy gained momentum in 18th and 19th century Europe, mainly concerning orthopedic development and treatment of rheumatoid diseases.
Most recently, during the last decade, hydrotherapy has regained popularity as beneficial to diverse groups. New methods utilizing water’s various attributes have been developed, providing patients with additional emotional and psychological benefits, including a sense of calm, emotional relaxation and stress relief.
Hydrotherapy’s many advantages and amazing medical properties, which are only accessible in the water, play an important role in hydrotherapy’s impressive success rate.
Advantages of Hydrotherapy
- Buoyancy – upon entering the water, a person is relieved of his body weight (Archimedes’ principle of buoyancy), allowing patients to strengthen muscles without carrying their weight. For this reason, doctors refer orthopedic post-operative patients, people with difficulties in balance, back pain and slipped disk sufferers, and people with arthritis and Parkinson’s to hydrotherapy.
- Water Resistance – water viscosity creates resistance to movement, enabling muscle and movement resistance, allowing exercise at the patient’s individual strength level.
- Hydrostatic pressure – water pressure on the body helps lessen swelling and free muscles.
- Water temperature – swimming in a small, warm-water pool relaxes body muscles, eases the mind, relieves stress and anxiety and provides a genuine feeling of serenity. Activity in warm water expands blood vessels and stimulates blood flow throughout the body, resulting in improved functioning of internal organs and the body’s immunity system.
Over the years, many techniques have been developed for hydrotherapy treatment, with the hydrotherapist deciding which technique or techniques are appropriate for specific patients. Among the more well-known techniques: watsu, halliwick, bad ragaz, hydro stretching, manipulative water movements, jahara, water aerobics and swimming.
From approximately the seventh month of pregnancy, body weight becomes heavier and tends to be more onerous. The warm water of the hydrotherapy pool provides a lighter feeling, making the weight of the stomach less burdensome. Hydrotherapy helps alleviate back pain, lessens foot cramps and alleviates varicose veins.
Hydrotherapy in Special Education
Hydrotherapy, with all of its advantages, is beneficial to everyone. This is especially true for people with disabilities, as hydrotherapy increases self-confidence and self-awareness, improves stability and communication and builds body strength.
Water is helpful in attaining many goals, especially when hydrotherapy is integrated into the patient’s overall treatment plan in conjunction with all other therapists. This multi-disciplinary approach is exemplified at ALEH Jerusalem’s professional hydrotherapy pool.
Who Benefits from Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy is beneficial to normative children with: attention deficiency, behavioral issues, migraine headaches, emotional problems and lack of self-confidence.
Hydrotherapy can also help children and adults with special needs; ADHD, PDD, mental delays, emotional issues and even language development delays.
Hydrotherapy is appropriate for all ages (from the youngest children to golden-agers) in treating: back pain, slipped disk, issues of skeletal or muscular degeneration, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, migraines, post-trauma stress and more.
Another section of the population enjoying hydrotherapy is expectant mothers. Hydrotherapy alleviates back pain and edema in the legs and lessens foot cramps and varicose veins.
The pool setting, seen as a normative social meeting place, bolsters patient cooperation and feelings of self-worth.
Water has a calming effect on the psyche, making hydrotherapy effective for people who enjoy water and seek mental relaxation and relief from stress, in addition to being beneficial to people with physical needs.
Hydrotherapy provides fortification and empowerment in a secure and instructive environment. It is appropriate for everyone and contains inherent health benefits for people of every age and medical situation.
Hydrotherapy treatments are recommended throughout the year, including during the winter months. Cold weather is not an issue, as the professional hydrotherapy pool at ALEH Jerusalem is well heated in an enclosed area, and the water is warm and pleasant.
It is worth trying!