Sarah Wratten • Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist, Consultant and Aquatic Therapy Association for Chartered Physiotherapists (ATACP) Accredited Tutor in Aquatic Therapy.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.    What is aquatic physiotherapy?
The ATACP definition is; ‘A therapy programme utilising the properties of water, designed by a suitably qualified physiotherapist specifically for an individual to maximise function, which can be physical, physiological or psychological.  Treatments should be carried out by appropriately trained personnel, ideally in a purpose built, and suitably heated hydrotherapy pool.'
2.    Why has hydrotherapy been replaced with the term aquatic therapy?
In 2006 the Aquatic Therapy Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (ATACP), formerly the HACP, changed the name to be in line with international terminology. In addition to this the term hydrotherapy is generic and has used by other forms of water based treatment such as colonic irrigation. Please note even though it is now aquatic therapy we still perform aquatic therapy in a hydrotherapy pool.

3.    Why is it ideal to be in a heated pool versus a local swimming pool?
The benefits are related to the water temperature being at thermoneutral (34.5-35.5°C) which is a temperature that will not affect your core body temperature. It promotes vasodilation of peripheral blood vessels which will improve circulation and help to reduce pain and muscle spasm. In colder water this will not be the case and patients can often get cold increasing spascity and tone.

4.    Can the hydrotherapy pool water be too hot?
Yes. It is not recommended any patient be treated in a pool water temperature that has exceeded 35.5°C. This is because of the considerable effects temperature has on the cardiovascular system. At thermoneutral (34.5-35.5°C) a person’s core temperature is not affected but at 37°C the core temperature rises and blood pressure drops, even without exercise cardiac output increases to 80% and heart rate to 105bpm.   

5.    What qualifications should you have to practice aquatic physiotherapy?
As physiotherapists will know the amount of undergraduate training has reduced dramatically over the years so that currently some Universities do not provide any training at all. At best there are a few hours theory and may be a session in a local swimming pool. The CSP in association with the ATACP state for you to be working within your scope of practice unsupervised you should have the equivalent of 13 hours training either from a structured course or from in-house training with an appropriate trained member of staff. 

6.    What are the benefits of Sarah delivering the course at your venue?

  • More staff can be trained for the cost of sending a few on an external course 
  • The tutor costs could be easily recouped by having external participants pay to attend
  • The course would be in a familiar environment using the equipment available to you 
  • Sarah could help with any pool health and safety risk assessment questions related directly to your pool
  • A course programme could be designed specifically to meet the needs of your staff and patient group 
  • Your staff as a team would be able to on course completion practice and peer review each other 

7.    Are there course cancellation fees?
Yes once the signed acceptance of the terms and conditions have been received. Cancellation within one month will incur a 10% fee, less than two weeks notice incurs a 20% fee and if within 48 hours 80% of the fee plus any accommodation and public transport costs incurred.

8.    What equipment is required for an aquatic therapy course?            
The following equipment is required and any additional is advantageous

  • Neck collars (at least one collar per 2-3 participants)
  • Waist floats
  • Woggles (or noodles - a variation on terminology)
  • Arm bands
  • Inflatable rings 
  • Fins

9.    What are the maximum participants numbers there can be on a course?
This is dependent on the size of the hydrotherapy pool used. Please allow 2m² per participant ie. if your pool is 4m x 5m = 20m² therefore 10 participants (please consider space unavailable such as steps or very deep water). The Foundation Aquatic Therapy course can have a maximum of 15 participants. The intermediate or bespoke courses can have a maximum of 12 participants due to the limitation of handling technique correction if too many participants. 

10.    Do you need to have completed the Foundation course prior any other?
It is recommended to have completed a Foundation Aquatic Therapy course prior any intermediate/bespoke course. The Foundation Aquatic Therapy course is a 13 hour standardised course endorsed by the CSP. Please see aquatic therapy courses for further details of this course. If you feel confident you have a good understanding and practice of all the hydrostatics and hydrodynamics principles (hydrostatic pressure, relative density, buoyancy, drag, turbulence and the metacentric effect) and physiology of immersion from in-house training then this would be acceptable. 

11.    Do you tutor courses all over the UK and abroad?
Yes I do. Course fees do require the tutor’s travel and accommodation being provided so please factor this into your budgeting. I live in Leatherhead, Surrey postcode KT22 8HG. Travel can be either petrol reimbursement or public transport cost depending which is most appropriate for the venue.

If have any other questions please contact Sarah