Hydrotherapy is believed to have sprung up in the 5th century B.C. when the Greek
physician Hippocrates first documented its practices. Not always known as hydrotherapy,
this practice was probably referred to as "the water cure" or hydropathy
by previous civiliations. The term hydrotherapy is derived from the prefix "hydro",
meaning water, and refers to the therapeutic use of water at any temperature or
form, including ice packs, vaporizers and hot baths.
Not long after the fall of Rome, Christian influence eliminated public baths due
to the culture's objections to public nudity. However, hydrotherapy was revived
in the Middle Ages and Renaissance period as physicians came to rely on springs
rich in sulfur and waters rich in bromine and iodine to treat various health issues.
By the 10th century, Benedictine monks recognized the therapeutic benefits of hot
springs and rebuilt the Bath Abbey in England that had once been destroyed by Norse
invaders. The use of the scientific method in the 18th century increased the practice
of hydrotherapy throughout Europe.
New knowledge regarding hydrotherapy and new techniques using water‑specific exercises, aromatherapy, steam therapy, and chromatherapy are ensuring that hydrotherapy is still accepted as a medium for rehabilitation in its own right.
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