Hot Tub Therapy Helps Children with Serious Health Issues

May 4, 2012

Did you know that hot tub therapy is very beneficial for some childhood illnesses and muscle conditions?  (And It’s Fun)

Hot tub play can be therapeutic for children, especially for those with conditions that benefit from the water’s warmth, buoyant support and muscle-building resistance. That includes a range of muscular, skeletal and neurological disorders, from autism and asthma to scoliosis and spinal bifida. Many hospitals and therapy centers include hot tub time in their treatments.

Cool down the water to between 90°F and 94°F for aquatic therapy with younger children, maybe 100°F to 102°F for older kids who are going in only waist-deep. This will keep them from getting too tired. They can safely stay in the cooler water 10 minutes for every year of age – 20 minutes for a 2-year-old, 100 minutes for a 10-year-old. This is only a suggestion. Be sure to check with your personal physician before letting your child with one of these conditions soak in the hot tub.   Grownups, of course, can tolerate up to 104°F for 15-20  minutes at a time.

Make sure the water is absolutely pristine! If your child is ill, he or she will likely have a compromised immune system. Don’t risk further health issues by having them soak in dirty water. SilkBalance is ideal as a hot tub water treatment because it’s soft on skin, doesn’t irritate eyes and maintains water quality with little effort.

Physical therapist Kristin Cooley of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, which treats about 50 children a month with water therapy, says parents often can help with the therapy at home under a professional’s guidance. Cooley identifies benefits for these conditions:

* Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and Hot Tub Therapy.

The water’s buoyancy helps support a broader range of motion for children with joint inflammation and muscle weakness while the water’s resistance helps strengthen muscles. Jet turbulence in the tub can teach better balance, and kids can boost their endurance with aerobic exercises in the water. Take it easy during a flare-up, but otherwise encourage more activity during the session.

* Cystic Fibrosis and Asthma and Hot Tub Therapy.

The pressure of the water on the chests helps strengthen the diaphragm, leading to more lung capacity, breath control, and rib mobility. Because chemicals are evaporating from the water within 18 inches of the surface, children with these problems should spend only about10 minutes with their face that close, and maybe another 10 minutes waist-deep.

* Cerebral Palsy and Hot Tub Therapy. The water’s support helps children stand, walk and keep better balance. The jets and warm water loosen muscles and ease pain.

* Brittle Bones and Hot Tub Therapy.  Children whose bones break easily because of osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) can exercise more safely in the water. The sessions strengthen their muscles and improve mobility and motor skills.

* Scoliosis and Hot Tub Therapy. Buoyancy and resistance in the water strengthen muscles on the weak side of the curved spine and even help improve the body’s alignment.

* Autism & Sensory Integration Dysfunction and Hot Tub Therapy. The physical sensation of water on the body helps calm children who have autism. The environment magnifies sounds and sights, including echoes and light reflecting off the water, in ways that can benefit the children.

* Spina Bifida and Hot Tub Therapy. Time in the water can help strengthen the upper body of children who suffer from the birth defect that leaves them with improperly formed vertebrae. The condition affects their center of gravity, and the tub sessions can help them learn to orient themselves.

Of course, you don’t have to tell the kids it’s good for them – just let them have fun! It’s just another way your hot tub helps your peace of mind.

Please do check with your personal physician before you let your child suffering from one of these conditions soak in hot water.

Thanks to Creative Energy Hot Tubs in the San Francisco Bay Area for the ideas found in this post.

SANUM PER AQUA. Latin for Health through Water.


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