Background: Intensive Care Unit Acquired Weakness can be mitigated by early activity and progressive mobilization. Hydrotherapy enables patients to work on their recovery in a very early stage. This may lead to higher levels of self-efficacy, subsequently higher activity-rates and faster functional recovery. Hydrotherapy might positively affect the regaining of control, hope and trust. Our aim is to explore patient perspective regarding the impact of hydrotherapy on critically ill ventilated patients.
Methods: This qualitative exploration study adopted an interpretative phenomenological approach using in depth, face to face, semi-structured interviews.
Questions covered: pre-admission physical activity, perception of hydrotherapy, affection to water, positive and negative experiences and feelings towards the recovery process. Interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis.
Results: Twelve patients were enrolled, of which eight could be interviewed. After analyzing, five main themes were found: experiencing consequences of critical illness, feeling safe in the water, being able to move, positive experiences relating to hydrotherapy and experiencing a turning point.
Conclusions: Hydrotherapy seemed to help patients regain control and belief in their recovery. Patients experienced exercising in water as a turning point in their recovery process. This study encourages to continue providing hydrotherapy to critically ill ventilated patients and may stimulate future research.