Research Project – Accessibility to Hydrotherapy

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign seeks to ensure better informational access for neuromuscular patients in obtaining hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is vitally important for people living with muscular dystrophy in keeping their muscle function stronger for longer. This is why a recent in-depth research project has been undertaken investigating and outlining hydrotherapy services that are available across England. This research is also preliminary work to produce a hydrotherapy report which will set out arguments to improve access to hydrotherapy by highlighting gaps in hydrotherapy provision through the directory of hydrotherapy pools.

The data is grouped on a per-region basis and once the research is complete, the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign will publicize the information to assist neuromuscular patients in easily locating a hydrotherapy facility near them. The data will be similar to our previously published report on hydrotherapy accessibility in the South West. This time however, the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign hopes to include an interactive map for ease of reference.

The project plan has hitherto focused on collecting the names of public and private hospitals and specialist schools throughout England. This was followed by contacting individual establishments and asking a serious of enquiries on the pool facility, referrals, costs and limitations on accessibility. Limitations on accessibility imply a restriction in place as a result of a facility providing service to a specific group and will be further illustrated in the below paragraph. The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign is also sending out Freedom of Information requests to PCTs enquiring on what hydrotherapy services are provided in respective PCT areas for people with muscular dystrophy or a related neuromuscular condition.

Initial findings indicate that there are about 18 establishments that have hydrotherapy pools but do not provision to neuromuscular patients. A prevalent reason for this is a hospital may not have a Neuro team on hand or a specialist school only caters to its students. For example, in the Yorkshire and Humber region, the Tickhill Road Hospital only accepts people with a learning disability and Hope School only rents their pool out externally to a group called Water Babies which only accepts toddlers. Further initial findings support previous conclusions in the South West report which indicated that if a patient wanted to rent out the pool, they would not only have to pay for the pool rental which can start from at least £35, sometimes there is also an additional one time consultation charge of about £47. Furthermore, users may also have to be responsible for ensuring that there is a lifeguard or physiotherapist present, the costs of doing so are the users’ burden.

A challenge in researching this information has been due to inability to get in touch with the physiotherapy department which typically handles hydrotherapy provisions. Many times reaching the proper department is time consuming and requires multiple efforts. This is followed by a challenge in getting in touch with the appropriate person that is knowledgeable on what types of hydrotherapy services are provided. This further supports previous concerns highlighted by people with a neuromuscular condition and the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign on lack of information available on accessible hydrotherapy pools.

We hope that the final results will encourage PCTs to look into gaps in accessibility of information on hydrotherapy pools and gaps in provisional services for neuromuscular patients.

For more information about the hydrotherapy campaign or for information on accessing hydrotherapy pools in your area, please get in touch by telephone at 020 7803 4839 or by email at


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