MP learns of importance of aquatic physiotherapy treatment

An aquatic physiotherapy team welcomed their local MP on a visit to their hydrotherapy pool facilities.

Amersham hospital pool
Sarah Green MP, middle, and staff at the new hydrotherapy pool at Amersham Hospital. Photo: Stefano Cagnoni

Chesham and Amersham MP Sarah Green met with patients who had benefited from aquatic physiotherapy treatment at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust’s Amersham Hospital.

They told Ms Green how their health and wellbeing had improved since using the new pool facilities and what a difference it had made to their lives.

Since the pool was officially re-opened in February, following work to upgrade the facilities, the aquatic physiotherapy team have been able to work with groups of patients and provide vital rehabilitation for a variety of conditions including, post-surgical recovery, pain management, rheumatism, neurological conditions and also to enable certain patients to potentially avoid the need for surgery procedures altogether. 

What is aquatic physio?

Aquatic physiotherapy differs from other water-based exercise such as swimming or aqua aerobics because it involves prescribed exercises completed in a warm, accessible hydrotherapy pool with a physiotherapist.

It also allows people to develop skills to self-manage their condition, maintain a good quality of life and reduce dependence on long-term medication.

Amersham Hospital hydro pool
Sarah Green observes patients and physiotherapists during an aquatic therapy session. Photo: Stefano Cagnoni

The new bigger pool enables the physiotherapists to offer an increased variety of aquatic therapy techniques. As well as increasing the size of the pool, improvements have been made to provide ease of access with improved safety measures including level access and non-slip surfaces. 

Ms Green also saw a demonstration of the new ceiling track hoist with chair and stretcher, which allows ease of access to all areas of the pool area and minimises the amount of manual handling required by staff.  In addition, the original high ceiling over the pool has been lowered which has improved temperature regulation and energy efficiency.

She said: ‘Hearing from the patients about how their health and wellbeing has significantly improved after sessions in the upgraded pool really highlights to me how important aquatic physiotherapy treatment is.

‘I understand it is considered a key element in the range of strategies that will help to reduce waiting lists in the wake of the pandemic and I am impressed that local patients have access to this newly updated facility. The team at Amersham Hospital are clearly very passionate about their new pool and the difference it makes to their patients which is wonderful to witness.’

Neil Macdonald, chief executive of Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said: ‘I’m very proud to see these great facilities in action and to observe the care and passion of our physio team. Their dedication and drive to provide patients with the best therapy options inspired our trust board to make the commitment to upgrade the facilities.

‘It’s fantastic that in doing so we’ve not only improved things for our staff and patients but have been able to make the facilities more energy efficient - which is a great result in terms of management of public funds and our ambition to become a greener organisation.’ 

Kirsty Campbell, aquatic therapy lead physiotherapist, said: ‘It has been incredibly rewarding to see our patients achieve their recovery goals and manage their symptoms and long term conditions as a result of these fantastic new facilities.

‘This is particularly appreciated given that in other parts of the UK, hydrotherapy pools are under threat of closure or have been closed due to lack of funding. I am pleased to support the CSP’s national campaign to promote the benefits of aquatic physiotherapy so that more patients like ours can have the access to these important services and I was delighted to have the time with our local MP to showcase what is being achieved for our patients.’

Aquatic therapy explained

Mindy Dalloway, CSP campaigns and regional engagement officer, explained that aquatic therapy has historically been undervalued, due to the misconception it is expensive and inefficient.

‘This has sadly resulted in disinvestment and reduced availability to patients.

‘Covid-19 has escalated this with temporary pool closures – with up to 25 per cent remaining unopened now.

‘There is a national drive underway to promote the benefits of hydrotherapy.'

Key organisations (for example NASS, Versus Arthritis) are raising awareness of the benefits of aquatic therapy/hydrotherapy and a national manifesto for hydrotherapy has been produced with the support of the CSP and Aquatic Therapy Association of Chartered Physiotherapists. 

The increased waiting times for procedures and operations following the Covid-19 pandemic makes the requirement for patients to have access to hydrotherapy pools – pre and post operatively – even more important.

Aquatic therapy is listed within the spondyloarthritis and OA NICE guidelines and certain patients may be successfully managed with aquatic therapy and actually prevent or postpone the need for surgery.

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