Animals had ‘better access to hydrotherapy rehab pools in pandemic than humans’

Hydrotherapy pools are more widely available for animals than for people in Wales, a charity has warned, as services remain closed due to the pandemic.

Muscular Dystrophy UK said that many hydrotherapy facilities remain closed due to the pandemic, and have urged the Welsh Government to reopen pools for patients with muscle-wasting conditions and severe health problems.

However, it said that hydrotherapy has remained widely available for animals in Wales, offering pain relief or recovery from injury.

Robert Burley, the director of care at Muscular Dystrophy UK, told the BBC: “There were more hydrotherapy pools available to animals in Wales than there were to people living with muscle-wasting conditions. It shows just the challenge that people were facing even before Covid in accessing these kind of facilities.

“It would be great if venues that have hub hydrotherapy pools that perhaps aren’t normally open to the public could open their doors to people with muscle-wasting conditions to increase the access to hydrotherapy.”

Mr Burley added that hydrotherapy can make a “real difference” to people suffering with arthritis, rheumatism or broken bones.

NHS Wales ‘prioritising resources’

Humans with muscle-wasting conditions use hydrotherapy pools to soothe and repair aches and pains.

The Senedd said that the National Institute for Health Care and Excellence said hydrotherapy should be used only in addition to more effective treatments, but agreed health boards should restart services when able.

A Welsh government spokesman said: “NHS Wales is under extreme pressure at the moment and is prioritising resources to dealing with the pandemic. We would expect health boards to consider restarting services such as hydrotherapy when they are in a position to do so.”

Hydrotherapy pools remain closed at Ysbyty Gwynedd Hospital in Bangor and Morriston Hospital in Swansea, as well as the adult outpatient pool operated by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

However, Cardiff and Vale added that hydrotherapy pools at the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales, and in its specialist spinal and neuro rehab unit, remain open.

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