In physical therapy, whirlpool refers to a special kind of bathtub used in water baths or hydrotherapy. Whirlpools generate air bubbles and water from pumps placed at strategic points allowing the flow of air and water to massage specific muscles of the body. The intensity of circulation of air and water provides either gentle or deep massage. Whirlpools can be either cold or hot with adjustable whirlpool temperatures for physical therapy.
There are different types of whirlpools. They can be permanent fixtures or portable sets. Some whirlpool designs allow full body submersion and others are made for treatment of extremities only. There are cold whirlpools, which is often for treatment of single parts of the body, and warm whirlpools, for full body therapy.
Usually, cold whirlpool temperatures for physical therapy are set at a range of 50º F to 70º F while warm whirlpool temperatures for physical therapy ranges from 100º F to 110º F. Depending on the temperature, whirlpool treatments can last from 10 minutes up to 30 minutes.
Whirlpools are ideal for improving circulation and performing range of movement exercises. In addition, wound care is one of the common uses of whirlpools in physical therapy. Warm whirlpool temperatures for physical therapy wound treatment cleanse wounds; increases blood circulation in the wounded area as well as relieve pain. It also helps soften necrotic tissues and reduce wound infections.
Physical therapists follow a guide for the administration of whirlpool treatment for wound care. Typically, patients undergo whirlpool treatment once to twice every day for 20 minutes. Depending on your wound, whirlpool treatment may include the use of an antiseptic. After whirlpool, the therapist rinses the wound with water to remove any residues.
Therapists closely monitor whirlpool temperatures for physical therapy. Usually, therapists keep the water temperature at 92 °F to 96 °F and not exceeding 38 °C for patients with cardiopulmonary disease. The higher the temperature of the water the greater is the blood circulation.
Health care clinics and facilities have strict policies when it comes to sanitation in whirlpool or water therapy. Personnel must properly clean whirlpool tanks and use disinfectants to prevent infections.
Whirlpool treatment is not for all wound patients. There are also only certain types of wounds that can really benefit from this treatment. Some wounds may even become worse with this method of care. Your therapist will evaluate if whirlpool treatment is suitable to your health condition and type of wound.