Hydrotherapy can be effective in treating a number of conditions for people of all ages, but how can the technique benefit children in particular? In this article, our team of physiotherapy professionals discuss how children can benefit from aquatic therapy, which symptoms it can help to relieve, and where you can get tailored hydrotherapy in Shropshire.
What are the benefits of hydrotherapy for children? Hydrotherapy, or aquatic therapy, can benefit children diagnosed with genetic, neurological or orthopedic conditions in a number of ways:
- Pain relief, relaxation and improved circulation from the temperature
- Water resistance helps strengthen and stretch muscles
- The medium allows children to explore a range of movements whilst remaining supported and engaged
Read on to find out more about the tangible health benefits of aquatic therapy for children or to learn more about what a typical hydrotherapy session might look like.
How Can Hydrotherapy Benefit Children With Disabilities?
Hydrotherapy can be used to treat a range of conditions and the symptoms they present including Cerebral Palsy (click the link to find out more about the condition), developmental delay, genetic conditions, hypermobility, high and low tone muscles, spasticity and juvenile arthritis. Below, we’ve outlined why hydrotherapy can help children diagnosed with these conditions:
Pain Relief & Relaxation
The warmth of a hydrotherapy pool, which is usually somewhere between 33-35°C, offers gentle pain relief which many children can benefit from. Buoyancy of the water, combined with the temperature offers a relaxing medium for physiotherapy, and it can relieve some of the pressure many young people might experience. Warm water may be most beneficial for young people with high tone muscles, also known as hypertonia, as the warm water encourages muscles to relax, making movements easier.
The water adds an element of resistance and endurance to each physical movement, which in turn, helps to stretch the muscles. If your child has low tone muscles, they may find hydrotherapy less tiresome than physiotherapy on land. Hydrotherapy will still give them a stress-free opportunity to work on improving their strength over time, particularly if they have difficulty moving.
The session of physical activity performed regularly over a long period can have amazing effects on your child’s cardiovascular fitness levels, which can benefit them in many areas of their lives. Hydrostatic pressure in a hydrotherapy pool will also improve blood circulation due to the warm water encouraging blood vessels to expand, which comes with several health benefits.
Exploration of Movements
Children with orthopedic, neurologic, or genetic conditions such as juvenile arthritis, high & low tone muscles, or Cerebral Palsy, for example may struggle with certain functional activities. Water offers children and young people a supportive medium to explore and practice movements that they might not be able to do on land. The pain-relieving elements of the warm water, combined with better circulation and added buoyancy make physio exercises more enjoyable and often successful.
Hydrotherapy gives your child the opportunity to develop mind-muscle connection in a warm, fun, and engaging environment. The sensory stimulation of the aquatic therapy combined with movements and increased strength can all contribute to increased body awareness. This in turn has a positive impact on one’s confidence, both in a social and physical sense.
If you’d like to find out more about other types of physiotherapy treatments, and the types of conditions physio can help with, check out our recent article – ‘What Conditions Can Children’s Physiotherapy Treat?’.
Why Might Children Prefer Hydrotherapy To Dry Land Physiotherapy?
For some children, hydrotherapy can offer a more engaging and enjoyable experience when compared to typical, dry land physio solutions. The water offers pain relieving elements, as well as freedom of movement, which can help boost a child’s confidence in themselves.
When we conduct sessions with children, we involve the use of lights and music to add an extra sensory element to the session to increase a child’s engagement. Some children also love to play in the water, which encourages them to move around, as well as building key social, communication, and independent skills. Hydrotherapy won’t feel like therapy for many children, so often they are much more willing to take part!
What Does a Hydrotherapy Session Involve?
Your child or young person will first be assisted by our qualified hydrotherapist into the pool, where they’ll be taken through a tailored set of exercises. The series of movements will vary depending on the specific needs of your child, as well as their strength and mobility levels.
The session also includes the use of lights and music to increase your child’s engagement, and to ensure they have fun whilst physio is carried out! The hydrotherapy session lasts for around an hour (including time to get changed and into/out of the pool). Sessions may be slightly longer if your young person requires extra support for getting in and out of the hydrotherapy pool.
How Long Will My Child Require Hydrotherapy?
The truth is, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to physiotherapy and aquatic therapy, so we can’t say how many sessions your child might need. There are many factors that influence the length of treatment, including:
- The reason for your visit
- The complexity of the symptoms
- The frequency of hydrotherapy sessions
For example, those using hydrotherapy to treat a neurological condition might need regular hydrotherapy over a longer period of time when compared with a child who is recovering from an short-term sports injury.
For more information on the factors that affect how long your child might require physiotherapy, explore one of our recent blog posts. In the informative post linked, our team discusses children’s physiotherapy, as well as the factors that influence the recommended physiotherapy treatment.
Get Tailored Hydrotherapy For Your Child From Therapy Stars
Here at Therapy Stars, we have a team of professionally-trained physiotherapists and hydrotherapists who have decades of experience in treating children with genetic or mobility-reducing conditions. Our purpose-built hydrotherapy pool in Shropshire offers children a safe space to explore new movements and improve bodily awareness whilst socialising and most importantly, having fun.
If you’d like to find out more about the hydrotherapy packages we offer for children and young people, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team. We can answer any questions you might have, as well as advising on the best course of treatment.
If you have any questions that we haven’t answered below, please feel free to get in touch with our team!
Is Hydrotherapy a Form Of Physiotherapy?
Yes, hydrotherapy is essentially physiotherapy performed in water. A hydrotherapy session also involves a set use of movements to achieve a goal (such as strengthening muscles or improving flexibility), as would on-land physiotherapy.
What Is the Difference Between Hydrotherapy and Aquatic Therapy?
Aquatic therapy and hydrotherapy are the same thing. The terms can be used interchangeably, however, hydrotherapy can be used as a general term for any treatment involving water.
Is Hydrotherapy Suitable For Babies?
Yes, many babies with conditions such as developmental delay, or hypermobility, will benefit from hydrotherapy sessions. Hydrotherapy can offer the perfect opportunity for babies and toddlers to explore movements, build strength, and become more mobile.
What Are the Side Effects Of Hydrotherapy?
After a hydrotherapy session, your child may feel quite tired as they’ve used a lot of their energy performing exercises in the water. We would always recommend an increase in fluid intake immediately after a hydrotherapy session. They might also feel slight muscle soreness (DOMS) in the days following.