What is a hydrocollator


During physical therapy, depending on the seriousness of the patient’s condition, physical therapists can use anything from their hands to medicinal balls to other objects during the therapy sessions. Most of the times when the muscle damage is deep, medicines are used alongside therapy session for faster recovery. Hydrocollators are used in such cases to assist the therapy sessions and improve the effectiveness of the massages. The technique is little less known to the general public, but it had proved its advantages when it came to preparing the skin for deeper massage in various health conditions.

What Is A Hydrocollator?

As technical as the name might sound, hydrocollators are certainly not that technical. They are devices which are used to heat the silica gel pads that help in therapy sessions. The pads when are removed from the water bath, they are then placed on the patient to help with the massage.

The water is kept at a temperature of 160 °C. The silica gel pads are then submerged in the water bath till it is time to take them out and use them for the patients. The therapeutic pads can be heated or cooled as per the requirement.

Different Features Of Hydrocollator

The device is a liquid heating device for the therapeutic pads used in therapy sessions. The device features

  1. Immersion element which comes with heating element to heat the water
  2. Hydraulic Capillary thermostat helps maintain and monitor the temperature of the water
  3. The tank which acts as the tub to hold the water. It is usually big enough to allow the submersion of the pads
  4. Hydrocollator pads which are kept in the tank for as long as it is time to take them out and use them for patients.

The heating mechanism accounts for a lot of water wastage in the tank on a daily basis. The device ends up losing a lot of water to evaporation since the water is continuously heated. So to have the device function normally, it is important that someone keeps a check on the water level and keeps filling it up on a regular basis.

What Are Hydrocollator Pads?

Hydrocollator packs can vary in size, depending on the part of the body they would be used for along with the condition they are being utilized to treat particularly. Moreover, these pads can be loaded with various substances each one having its impacts and advantages. Some hydrocollator packs are loaded with gel, silica, or beads while others are loaded with corn or even rice. You might think that if the purpose is to heat the pads, then one can even do it in a microwave or oven. But this would ruin the hydrocollator pads completely. These pads are designed specifically for the hydrocollators and should only be heated in the device. Any other way that would be used to heat the pads would destroy them.

How Are The Hydrocollator Pads Used?

The pads are taken out of thewater and wrapped in atowel. They are then placed on the affected part of the body. Depending on the need and the seriousness of the condition, the pads can be placed for a varied amount of time. However, the time that they stay in the body is around 20 minutes to prepare the muscles for the treatment ahead.

What Is A Deep Tissue Massage?

What Is A Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is effective because it uses a technique which slowly but strongly massages the muscles for deep stimulation. This kind of massage is helpful for athletes who go through regular training or for people who have hurt their joints. It can be used for the whole body, but most of the times it is used to work on the stressed areas of the body. Deep tissue massage helps in a lot of ways. It

  • Relieves pain
  • Improves mobility
  • Loosens muscles
  • Improves circulation

The deep tissue massage is more beneficial than medications, diet, acupuncture and many forms of exercises. The deep tissue massage is so effective that people have reported improved mobility and lesser pain soon after.

How Does The Hydocollator Help With Deep Tissue Massage?

When the towel wrapped moist hydrocollator pads are placed on the body, they help expedite the healing process. The blood vessels under the skin are dilated, and the muscles are loosened. Keeping the pads on the body for 20 minutes or as prescribed by the therapist can help make the massage more effective and stimulating.This also helps with pain and accelerate the healing process. The heat is used in combination with stretching and massaging techniques to clear out the knots and other pains of the body.

How Are The Hydrocollator Pads Better?

How Are The Hydrocollator Pads Better

You always have the option of using electrical pads for amassage but the hydrocollator pads are a better option.  They provide moist heat to the body which is more effective than dry heat your body can get. The moist heat helpskeep the skin hydrated and retain its natural moisture. This is particularly helpful in thehealing process with the massage therapy in conditions that involve pain. The heat from the hydrocollator pads helps treat conditions such as

  • Sprains
  • Damaged tissues
  • Muscle spasm
  • Chronic pain
  • Sports injuries
  • Soreness in joints

What To Expect During The Massage?

During the massage, the physical therapist will first use hydrocollator pads to prepare the particular part of the body for the massage. This is not just for the preparation of the massage but is an integral part of the whole procedure. The therapist will then be using his hands along with fingertips, knuckles, elbows, hands and forearms to give the patient a slow but a strong stimulating massage. While the therapist would be working with the tensed and knotted parts of the body, you would be asked to inhale and breathe deeply to help with the process. Depending on the extent of the pain, you might feel a little bit of discomfort but other than that there isn’t much on the deep tissue massage that you should be prepared for. However, if you feel that the massage is getting a little too painful for you, then you can always speak up about it so that the therapist can reduce the pressure on your body.

Shake Off The Effects Of The Deep Tissue Massage

When you get back home, your body would want to shake off the massage effects and the best way to recover from the massage is to treat yourself to a long hot bath. Soak yourself in warm water for a good while to help with the healing process. For more benefits, put in some Epsom salt in the water bath before taking a bath. It will also help remove toxins from the body.

Anything You Should Be Cautious About With Hydrocollators?

When using hydrocollators, it is important to take care of certain precautions and preventive measures that can improve their functionality and make them last longer.Hydrocollators, if are not used with care, can be dangerous as well.

  • Fill in the water level in the tank on a regular basis to make sure that there is enough water to keep the pads submerged.
  • Discard the pads the very moment they show any signs of wear and tear.
  • Do not try to move the device while it is filled with water. If water spills out, someone can get some serious burn injuries.
  • Unplug and drain the water before cleaning the equipment

How To Keep The Hydrocollator Clean?

Keeping the hydrocollators clean will help improve its functionality. It is suggested that one should clean the insides of the device after two weeks at least. If a complaint is lodged against the device, then it could result in serious fines. You should always keep looking for calcium buildup, rust or dirty water containers in the tank. Each hydrocollator device comes with instructions manual on how to keep the device clean and take care of it. Some of the things you should look into when cleaning the device are:

Damaged pads: When clay starts oozing out of the hydrocollator pads then it is time to replace them. If you see the water turning dirty when you put the pads onit, or you feel them leaking hold them in your hands, then it is time to throw them away. Using the same damaged packs again will ruin the insides of the device and boiling them will further aggravate the leaking. If you take care of them properly, the pads should last more than a year.

Water level: If the pads dry out they will get damaged much faster. So it is important that you keep a check on the water levels to ensure that the water is covering the pads completely all the time.

Change water: The tap water has chlorine, and it can damage the insides of the tank. The tank is usually made of stainless steel and the chlorine damages that.This is the reason itis advised to

  1. Use bottled water since it doesn’t have chlorine in it
  2. Change the water regularly on weekly basis if you are using tap water

The rust from the tanks will not damage the pads, but the rust covering the pads can ruin the clothes of the person they would be used for. Using pads covered in rust will also give off a very unhygienic look which will not be good for the physical therapists.

The insides of the unit can be cleaned by using some vinegar long with some disinfectant and non-abrasive cleaning pads. You can spray the insides of the tank with some vinegar and cleaning liquid and scrub it off using the pads to swipe it all clean. Vinegar has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is a natural cleaner which is less toxic in nature and less hazardous for human health.Vinegar being acidic in nature helps clean the deposit that has built up over time the tank. It also helps get rid of thefoul smell in the tank.The cleaning mixture would comprise of 2 parts of vinegar mixed with one part of water

The process includes:

  • Unplugging the hydrocollator
  • Draining all the water
  • Use the mixture to remove any deposits build up in the tank.
  • Take out the racks and clean them with the mixture as well
  • Rinse the whole tank with clean water
  • Refill it with bottled water or unchlorinated water
  • Clean the outside of the device with cleaner and polisher
  • Try to keep the outsides of the hydrocollator clean all the time to maintain a neat look of your device at all times. Spraying and cleaning with the vinegar mixture can come in handy too.

Cleaning the hydrocollator clean will not take much of your time, but it can save you from a lot of unnecessary complaints and the lawsuits that would follow up. For a physical therapist, it is important to make sure that the services he provides to his patients are of topnotch quality.Keeping the device clean will not only save them from costly sanctions but would also help boost up their business. Patients like going to therapists who provide them with a clean environment.

Hydrocollators were first introduced by the Chattanooga Pharmaceutical Company in 1947.Since then this one simple device has helped patients find relief from chronic pains and other joint pains. It is particularly helpful for the athletes and physical therapists. It is used with deep tissue massage to help with a lot of painful conditions the body might be suffering from.

If used properly, the hydrocollator pads can help improve the effectiveness of the deep tissue massage that would follow. The pads are more commonly used for pain relief, but most of the athletes who go through rigorous training everyday use them to sleep peacefully and relax their bodies. Hydrocollator therapy is just a part of the treatment, and one would need to go through multiple sittings to get the desired results.

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