Decision making in Hydrotherapy

This level is intended to be for (medical) decision makers and managers of an aquatic therapy department. The content will give a comprehensive coverage of fundamental aquatic therapy knowledge.

Duration: 2 days (16 academic contact hours of 45 minutes) and 12 hours self-tuition. The course will be theoretical.

Contents Total hours
 Definitions of aquatic therapy, hydrotherapy and balneotherapy  3
 International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health  4
 Evidence Based Clinical Practice (incl documentation)  6
 Competences of the Aquatic (Physical) Therapist  3
 Physiology of immersion and aquatic exercise  8
 Indications and precautions (red flags)  4


The definitions of aquatic therapeutic exercise, hydrotherapy and balneotherapy can be found at various websites and in various documents. These will be covered during self tuition and contact hours.
The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (WHO, 2001) classifies health and health problems. ICF forms the basis of classifying and treating health problems In other modules, case histories based on ICF will be used in clinical reasoning and goal setting towards aquatic therapy.
Evidence Based Clinical Practice (EBCP: Sackett 1996) describes the process to combine external evidence (patient related research) with professional expertise and preference of patients. Together with appropriate assessment, this leads a methodical implementation in treatment. All modules are based on this system. Documentation as a professional task will be covered here in relation to EBCP.
The competences to be achieved at the end of all modules are based on the competence description of the IATF educated professional. In addition, competences as described by aquatic groups in various associations of physical therapists will be discussed.
Immersion and movement in water affects the body because of the mechanical, thermal and chemical properties of water. The effects in the body can be separated in effects on the cardiovascular, the pulmonal, the endocrine and the neuromusculoskeletal systems. Knowledge of these effects is of utmost importance as a basis for understanding any therapeutic intervention.
This section will deal with the reasons to refer a patient to aquatic therapy. A patient has a deranged biophysical status and might also experience detrimental effects of immersion. Knowledge of indications and precautions are necessary therefore to ensure an effective treatment in a safe setting.


At the end of the course the participant is able to:
– Describe the definitions of therapeutic exercise, hydrotherapy and balneotherapy
– Use ICF when setting goals in aquatic therapy
– Use and explain the concept of EBCP
– Describe the competences of an aquatic therapist
– Explain in detail the physiological influences of immersion and exercise on the covered body tissue systems
– Determine indications as well as aquatic red flags and their impact on planning a session.