Saturday, December 21, 2013

Hydrotherapy,k it's not just a shower anymore - By Elizabeth Giammarco

Disclosure: This column is not intended to give medical or psychiatric advise. If you are experiencing any difficulties, please call your physician, or call 911, or go to your nearest emergency room. This column is for information and entertainment only.

Water therapy, which is also known as hydrotherapy, probably has been around since we have. The Romans, Turks, Japanese, and other cultures found the benefits of water many centuries ago. However, in the fast-paced world that exists today, quick wash-ups have replaced long showers and languished baths. Except for the seasonal dip in the ocean, water therapy has become somewhat of a thing of the past. 

However, it is as necessary for well-being today as it was years ago.

Hydrotherapy has been used in a wide variety of settings such as sports medicine, physical therapy, as well as within the mental health arena. In fact, one of the most common treatments for mental disorders in psychiatric hospitals and institutions was hydrotherapy. A recent nurses’ study has suggested that even though water therapy is no longer part of today’s treatment for psychiatric disorders, it had been shown to be quite beneficial for many when incorporated as part of a treatment plan. 

Water therapy can come from different sources such as whirlpool baths, showers, dips in the ocean or lakes, splashing in a backyard pool, or just soaking in one’s basic bathroom tub. Whatever an individual’s preference is, the main factor has to do with the relaxation and regeneration that water can give for a variety of conditions. For instance, on those occasions when I feel stressed or need some time away from the multitude of stimuli that prevails throughout the day, I gather soap, towel, candles, and hide away in the warm, bubbly waters of the bath. My children have noted that it seems as if each time I join the land of the living again after one of these excursions, I come out of the bathroom with yet another exclamation of “hey, I have an idea.” Consequently, creativity might also be the end result of a long soak in a spa-like environment as well.

Water therapy should not be confused with a cleansing bath or shower, although, that is one of the perks as well. The purpose of hydrotherapy is to let the sensation of the water soothe the psyche as well as the body. The water is the treating agent in this case. Addition of candles in the room as well as aromas such as eucalyptus, lavender, chamomile, and such add to a state of well-being. Water flowing from a shower can add to the negative ionic changes as well and in so doing may help with calming the body and mind as well as recharging it. Just think how the sound of crashing waves, or the calmness of the bay, a babbling brook, fountains in water gardens, and/or water falls allow you to feel and then envision that same type of tranquility and awe when utilizing water as a therapy.

Although not totally scientific, the Japanese experimenter, Masaru Emoto suggested the idea that water crystals change as a result of either positive or negative thoughts – therefore, keeping good thoughts in mind is also an nice way to help with healing the mind and body as well. 

Most everyone is able to benefit from water therapy. Men, women, and children are all great candidates for hydrotherapy. I remember well when my four boys were little and full of energy, one way that helped them regain the stability of calmness was to place them in a tub of warm water and to add just a few bath toys. 

The addition of classical music in the background (not in the bathroom please), helped them relax and brought their play from that of a frenzy to a more sedate level. At the end of the bath-time, I may have had a lot of water to mop up from the floor as well as myself; however, I also had children who were much calmer.

Before venturing into water therapy though, one has to make sure that safety devices are in place such as secure handrails, no electrical units in the bathroom or therapy area, water is neither too cold or too hot, and with children, elderly, or those not quite steady on their feet, another person should be close-by or inside the room as well. Bathing suits can be worn when modesty is a concern. 

One other neat aspect of using one’s own bathroom, shower, or pool is that there are no costly membership or spa fees. One can make the environment to his or her liking. And who knows-- after a quiet, candle-lit, and aroma laced bath, one might just come up with the idea of the century or even what to have for dinner.

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