Hydrotherapy pools

I. Introduction

A Hydrotherapy Pool is a warm water pool designed for aquatic physiotherapy treatment and rehabilitation. They are used to treat people post injury, surgery, or for medical condition management.
Aquatic physiotherapy is a programme designed by a suitably qualified physiotherapist that utilises the properties of water and is specific to each individual in order to maximise function. This 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.


They are usually located in hospitals, special needs schools, sports injury clinics and military establishments.


Hydrotherapy pools are defined by their warm water temperature and design for aquatic physiotherapy, treatment and rehabilitation. They tend to be no more than 15m in length with a maximum capacity of 100m3.

They are used to treat people after injury, surgery, or for managing a medical condition. Aquatic physiotherapy in a hydrotherapy pool can improve blood circulation, reduce muscle spasm and help relieve pain. The weight-supported environment can improve mobility which may not be possible out of the water.

Exercises using the resistance of water can be used for strengthening and conditioning, as well as for improving balance and coordination.
The ideal temperature for a hydrotherapy pool is thermoneutral (34-35°C), which is the temperature range where the body's core temperature will not increase or decrease.

II. Design & Operational Standards

The people that use and are treated in Hydrotherapy Pools are vulnerable and as a result the Design & Operation of such facilities must comply with higher standards than those of a recreational commercial swimming pool.

Role of the Designated Aquatic Physiotherapist:

Surveillance & Communication:

Effective working relationships between the designated aquatic physiotherapist, trained pool operators/engineers and microbiologists to ensure:

The Pool Safety Operating Procedure (PSOP):

This should include:

Hydrotherapy Pool Design Requirements:

Environmental Control Systems:

The most important part of running a Hydrotherapy Pool is the maintenance of the pool hall environment.

A water temperature of 34 - 35°C is at the upper end of the range in which an in-situ Vinyl Liner will provide satisfactory service for at least 5 years and it is very important to ensure that this temeperature is not exceeded. Tiled pools will resist higher temperatures in theory but will double the initial cost of a hydrotherapy pool and the tiling will need to be regrouted in the same time frame.


Within the UK, it is the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 that places a legal duty on pool operators to ensure a safe working environment and safe working practices.
They also have a Duty of Care to all those who use the facility, including those who are not lawfully entitled to use them such as trespassers. Should anyone be hurt or damaged as a result of non-compliance with the law, there will be an investigation which could lead to the prosecution of individuals and organisations, and the almost inevitable claim for compensation, for injuries or damages.
There are also several publications which have helped to interpret the requirements of the law, in relation to the operation of hydrotherapy pools.


The hydrotherapy pool industry has adopted Managing Health & Safety in Swimming Pools HSG179 and the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group publication Swimming Pool Water Treatment & Quality Standards in Pools and Spas as being the key authoritative texts and it will be found that most normal operating procedures and emergency action plans for hydrotherapy pools are based upon them.

IV. Hydrotherapy Pool Consultancy & Design Services

Bluepools provides specialist hydrotherapy pool design and consultancy services where new premises can be designed or existing pools brought up to current standards.