Making a splash for hydrotherapy

Carrie Tbaily, a PhD student at Bournemouth University, is exploring how caregivers perceive hydrotherapy to impact on the needs of adults with severe and profound and multiple learning disabilities.


Hydrotherapy covers any therapy that can be delivered in water. It can be hot, warm, or cold, and it can be active or passive/sedentary. This therapy has a positive effect on posture and balance, range of movement, tone, mobility, and gross motor function, but Carrie’s research aims to investigate how it impacts on social and psychological factors for adults with severe or profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD).

Carrie Tbaily, researcher, commented: “I’ve been a learning disabilities physio in adult services for over 11 years and am passionate about delivering the best possible care to the people we support. Hydrotherapy is frequently used within children’s services, and there is some research to support its use. But within adult learning disabilities research is scarce and resources are few, so access to hydrotherapy is often ad hoc and inequitable.

“I am so excited to be carrying out this much needed research, and really hope to use this study to get the ball rolling and improve the lives of adults with learning disabilities. Through a short questionnaire and virtual interview, SPLASH Study aims to find out how caregivers perceive hydrotherapy to impact on the lives of adults with severe or profound and multiple learning disabilities.

“We’re recruiting carers, family members, and health and social care professionals now, so please email me on for more information or to find out how to take part.”

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Carrie will be working alongside Dorset’s disability charity, Diverse Abilities, throughout her research to engage with those who rely on hydrotherapy and share the results on its importance as part of The Splash Appeal. The appeal is run by Diverse Abilities and aims to raise £1million to build a hydrotherapy pool for adults at The Beehive Centre in Poole.

Helen Mortimer, development manager at Diverse Abilities, commented: “We’re really pleased to be working alongside Carrie and her research whilst we are working on developing a new hydrotherapy pool for the adults we support at The Beehive. We know a hydrotherapy pool is desperately needed, but her research will help inform how we can maximise the benefit of the new facility for the people we support.”

Carrie hosted an interactive talk in January introducing the study and the rationale to its requirement. Parents supported by Diverse Abilities were amongst those invited to the discussion, where they could also ask questions about the research.

Visit for more information on Diverse Abilities’ appeal, or search ‘SPLASH Study’ on Facebook and Twitter for more details on the PhD project.

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