Hydrotherapy may be defined as the use of water in any of its three forms, solid, liquid, or vapor, internally or externally, in the treatment of disease or trauma.
The healthy human body maintains a normal uniform physiological stability within and among its parts, a condition known as homeostasis. In order to preserve this homeostatic condition the body must continually make physiological adjustments to environmental infouences, which in turn influence physiological processes within the human body. These include seasonal changes, temperature, atmospheric pressure, rainfall, sunlight, various radiations, clothing, food supply, water supply, and social conditions.
In hydrotherapy, the environment of the body is changed by means of water at varying temperatures and applied by various mechanical means. In general, the physiological responses are in direct proportion to the extent of the environmental changes. If the client is in a water bath of 97 F, there is minimal physiologic response, and can have a sedative effect by its lack of stimulation of the physiological processes. On the other hand, if the same patient were placed in a bath of 110F, marked physiological changes would be apparent. The skin becomes flush, the pulse increases, the temperature rises, metabolism is accelerated, and white blood cells become accelerated, thus resulting in a more inflammatory response from the immune system.
There are numerous Hydrotherapeutic Treatments, including:
1. Fomenations: this consists of a moist heat to the body surface
2. Hot Foot Bath Immersion: a local immersion h=bath covering the feet and ankles at temperatures ranging from 100F to 115
3. The Sitz Bath: is a partial bath covering the pelvic region, in a specifically given tub and alternating hot and cold applications
4. Cold Compress Treatments: a cloth wrung out from cold or ice water which may be applied to any part of the body surface
5. The Heating Compress: is a mild prolonged application of moist heat of several hours’ duration
6. The Ice Pack: a local application of cold over a covered body segment
7. Contrast Local Applications: the application of alternate heat and cold to a local area
8. Contrast Baths: the immersion of a body part alternately in hot and cold water
9. Constitutional Hydrotherapy