Felten-Barentz et al (2018), Patient views regarding the impact of hydrotherapy on critically ill ventilated patients: A qualitative exploration study

Summary: Hydrotherapy’s Impact on Critically Ill Ventilated Patients

Keyphrase: “Hydrotherapy’s Healing Influence”


This study explores hydrotherapy’s impact on critically ill ventilated patients, particularly its ability to mitigate Intensive Care Unit Acquired Weakness (ICUAW). Hydrotherapy, by enabling early-stage rehabilitation, potentially increases self-efficacy, activity rates, and accelerates functional recovery. This study aims to capture patients’ perspectives on how hydrotherapy influences their recovery process, focusing on regaining control, hope, and trust​​.


Adopting a phenomenological approach, the study involved critically ill ventilated patients from Radboudumc, Nijmegen, Netherlands. Eligibility for hydrotherapy depended on their physical condition and ability to respond to verbal commands. Exclusion criteria included the need for high ventilator support or the presence of severe agitation, large wounds, or multi-resistant bacteria colonization. The study aimed for a diverse sample regarding the length of stay, gender, age, and enthusiasm for hydrotherapy​​.

Data Collection

Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews focusing on experiences with hydrotherapy. These interviews covered areas like pre-admission physical activities, perception of hydrotherapy, and feelings towards the recovery process. The interviews, lasting up to 45 minutes, were conducted by experienced physical therapists specializing in intensive care medicine​​.


The study identified five main themes in the recovery process: experiencing the consequences of critical illness, feeling safe in the water, being able to move, positive experiences relating to hydrotherapy, and experiencing a turning point. Patients reported feeling physically and psychologically empowered by hydrotherapy. They experienced improved muscle strength and a regained sense of control over their recovery. The ability to move in the water was particularly emphasized as a critical factor in their recovery journey​​.

Discussion and Conclusion

Patients reported a positive impact of hydrotherapy on both their physical and mental recovery. The treatment was perceived as a significant turning point, helping them regain control and belief in their recovery. Safety concerns were minimal once patients were in the water, and hydrotherapy was found to be feasible across a diverse range of cases. This study confirms earlier research that hydrotherapy is safe and beneficial for critically ill ventilated patients, encouraging its continued provision and further research into its effects​​.

Keyphrase: Hydrotherapy’s Healing Influence

Keywords: Hydrotherapy, Critically Ill Patients, Rehabilitation, Patient Perspectives, Recovery Process


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