More hydrotherapy needed: specialist

Julian O'Hagan demonstrates a hydrotherapy pattern on a ''patient'', physiotherapy student Patch...
Julian O'Hagan demonstrates a hydrotherapy pattern on a ''patient'', physiotherapy student Patch Harnett (20), while fellow students Jakub Kajetanowicz (22) and Alicia Hart (19) look on at Dunedin's physio pool. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Dunedin stands to lose its physio pool at a time when the health sector should be increasing the use of hydrotherapy, a leading Dunedin physiotherapist says.

Julian O'Hagan, professional practice fellow at University of Otago's physiotherapy school, said the pool provided rehabilitation no other Dunedin facility could match.

Water's buoyancy and support made it ideal for people with injuries, while the physio pool's high heat and low noise added to the benefits, he said.

''Everybody's needs are different. Certainly Moana Pool can be appropriate for some groups of people but for others you need something different.''

Moana Pool tended to be noisy and bright, which overstimulated many people with disabilities.

The physio pool's significantly warmer water was a major benefit, he said.

''The water's warmth can certainly be helpful to relax tight muscles, or muscles that have been affected by other conditions such as neurological injuries.''

The Southern District Health Board announced last year the physio pool would be closed to save money.

The Otago Daily Times and the Otago Therapeutic Pool Trust have since launched a fundraising campaign to save the pool.

Mr O'Hagan, who learned his craft at the English thermal town Bath, said hydrotherapy was used extensively in Europe and Australia but had not been used as much in New Zealand.

Losing the pool would be a step backwards.

''It would be a great shame for the Dunedin community to lose this. People may not realise they need to use this until they have an injury or accident. It's providing such a beneficial service for so many people.''

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