A HYDROTHERAPY pool officially opened at Dene Barton Community Hospital, in Cotford St Luke, will help NHS patients self-manage certain conditions and offer more independence.

It opened to patients last August, but the unveiling ceremony was delayed due to Covid restrictions.

Physiotherapy outpatients team leader Helen Williams said the hydro pool is an important part of Somerset NHS Foundation Trust’s physiotherapy department and allows patients to receive specialised treatment locally rather than travelling to Bristol or Exeter.

She said: “We often see a group of patients who need to move forward with their rehab, but have extreme pain, loss of movement, or they simply aren’t able to weight-bear normally through their legs.

“On these occasions, our traditional rehab can be difficult for patients, but the supportive nature of the water helps them to avoid putting too much force through their legs, so they can offload their weight, but are still be able to strengthen against the resistance in the water.

“The warm water temperature helps manage pain, so quite often a patient’s muscles relax with blood circulation increasing.”

The trust's physiotherapy outpatients' department has been run from Dene Barton Hospital for four years following the decision to build a surgical decisions unit at the front of Musgrove Park Hospital.

Ms Williams added: "It’s an added bonus that we now have the hydro pool at Dene Barton Hospital too as both departments naturally work well together given the majority of the people we see are physiotherapy outpatients.

“We moved over during the height of the pandemic so could only accommodate one patient at a time, but we're looking to increase this capacity up to two patients as we move further towards the national living with Covid-19 strategy."

Hydrotherapy assistant Sharron Kington said: "The feedback we’ve had from patients has been amazing so far. They love it.

"We even struggle getting them back out of the water and if we weren’t strict with them, we’d have about 18 patients in the pool.

“It’s a very successful therapy for most of our patients, although it won’t work for everyone and in that case, we’d identify another solution, such as going back to our physiotherapy gym or going back to a ‘dry land’ physiotherapist.

“We offer patients a maximum of six sessions, although they always want more – this just shows how much they love it and find themselves improving."