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For many people living with muscular dystrophy or a related neuromuscular condition, hydrotherapy can be essential in maintaining the best quality of life for the longest time possible.

Hydrotherapy is a therapy that involves the use of water for pain relief and treatment. It is different from swimming as it involves performing special exercises in a warm-water pool, and also very different from water aerobics as it focuses on controlled movements and muscle relaxation.

Hydrotherapy can be a highly effective form of therapeutic exercise for people with muscle-wasting conditions. Studies suggest that when patients with muscular dystrophy or related neuromuscular conditions receive physiotherapy in association with hydrotherapy, measurable improvement in the quality of daily living may be obtained. These benefits include:

  • a sense of freedom and a greater range of movements, which
    the weight of the water gives you
  • muscle relaxation and alleviation of pain, which the increased
    temperature of the water allows
  • greater range of movement and resistance provided by the water,
    which allows for exercises that can strengthen the muscles
  • improved flexibility.

How can you access hydrotherapy?

Many individuals with muscular dystrophy and related neuromuscular conditions have difficulty accessing regular hydrotherapy. In some counties, the NHS helps pay for hydrotherapy, while in others, access is distinctly more difficult. Problems range from obtaining a referral from a health professional to gaining access to a facility with a hydrotherapy pool. Another issue is persuading a health professional of the benefits of hydrotherapy.

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s report Accessing hydrotherapy in the South West highlights these issues and comprehensively lists the hydrotherapy facilities available in the South West. The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign is currently working on a national service directory, similar to this report, which will provide in-depth information about hydrotherapy facilities throughout the country. We are hoping to have this completed by early 2013.

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign campaigns for equal and broad access to hydrotherapy services for all families affected by muscle-wasting conditions. Many of us will know someone either directly or indirectly who has tried hydrotherapy and felt the positive benefits it brings, yet receiving continuous access to hydrotherapy is difficult.

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