Hydrotherapy is the use of water to heal and ease a variety of ailments. Hydrotherapy is the most beneficial system of restoring normal functions in the body. It is employed to help balance metabolism.
Scientists have revealed the wonderful palliative and curative virtues of water. No other therapeutic agent possesses so many admirable qualities as does water. Being a universal solvent its use internally in the form of enema or
drinking water aids greatly in the elimination of waste products, (auto-intoxication) which readily accumulate in the body under certain conditions causing more or less pronounced injury.
Hippocrates the father of medicine had an excellent understanding of the physiological properties of water, both hot and cold which he employed in the treatment of fevers, ulcers, hemorrhage and a variety of maladies both medical and surgical.
Hydrotherapy is perhaps the oldest of all therapeutic methods. Pain and various other symptoms can be mitigated by accurately adopted Hydropathic prescriptions.
Hydrotherapy is used as a technique of physiotherapy for people recovering from serious injuries and with problems of muscle wastage. It is also used for people with joint problems and those with severe physical disabilities.
There are different ways of treatment in Hydrotherapy.
Cold baths, improve blood flow to internal tissues and organs. It help to reduce swelling. This method is not advisable for people with serious conditions or for the elderly or very young.
Sitz baths are given as treatment for painful conditions with broken skin, such as piles or anal fissure, and also for ailments affecting the urinary and genital organs.
For this, the person first sits in the warm water, which covers the lower abdomen and hips, with the feet in the cold water compartment. After three minutes, the patient sits in the cold water with the feet in the warm compartment.
Steam baths are used to encourage sweating and the opening of skin pores. It has a cleansing and refreshing effect.
There are many nerve endings on the skin surface which react to the stimulation given. If water of a different temperature is applied to the skin, it will either conduct heat to it or absorb heat from it. These have an influence on the nervous system and hormonal
system. Water that is of the same temperature as the body has a marked relaxing and sedative effect on the nervous system. This is used in states of stress to calm the patient. This is called 'neutral bath'.
For this patient is placed in a tub of water, the temperature of which is maintained between 33.5o C and 35.6o C (92oF to 96oF). Half an hour of immersion in a bath like this will have a sedative, or even soporific, effect.
Hot and Cold sprays
Hot and Cold Sprays of water may be given for a number of disorders but are not recommended for those with serious illness, elderly people or young children.
Flotation involves lying face up in an enclosed, dark tank of warm, heavily salted water. It refreshes and relaxes the patient.
A cold pack is really a warm pack-the name comes from the cold nature of the initial application.
A large piece of cotton material, a large piece of flannel or woolen material, a rubber sheet-to protect the bed; a hot water bottle, safety pins are the materials required for a cold pack.
First, soak the cotton material in very cold water, wring it out well and place it on the flannel that is spread out on the rubber sheet on the bed. Lay the person who is having the treatment on top of the damp material, fold it round his trunk and cover him up at once with
the flannel material. Firmly place it with the help of pins.
Now pull up the top bed covers and provide a hot water bottle. The initial cold application produces a reaction that draws fresh blood to the surface of the body; this warmth, being well insulated, is retained by the damp material. The cold pack turns into a warm pack,
which is gradually, over a period of six to eight-hours, bakes itself dry.
If a feeling of damp coldness is felt, the wet material may be inadequately wrung out, or the insulation materials too loose.
Wrapping is used for feverish condition, backache and bronchitis. A cold wet sheet that has been squeezed out, is wrapped around the person, followed by a dry sheet and warm blanket. These are left in place until the inner sheet has dried and the covering are then removed.