Historically, the field of Physical Medicine viewed hydrotherapy as a central treatment methodology. In 1911, Charles Leroy Lowman, the founder of the Orthopaedic Hospital in Los Angeles, which later became Rancho Los Amigos, began using therapeutic tubs to treat spastic patients and those with cerebral palsy after a visit to the Spaulding School for Crippled Children in Chicago, where he observed paralyzed patients exercising in a wooden tank. On returning to California, he transformed the hospital’s lily pond into 2 therapeutic pools .
At Warm Springs, Georgia, Leroy Hubbard developed his famous tank, and in 1924, Warm Springs received its most famous aquatic patient, Franklin D. Roosevelt. A wealth of information, research, and articles on spa therapy and pool treatments appeared in professional journals during the 1930s.
At Hot Springs, Arkansas, a warm swimming pool was installed for special underwater physical therapy exercises and pool therapy treatments with chronic arthritic patients .
By 1937, Dr. Charles Leroy Lowman published his Technique of Underwater Gymnastics: A Study in Practical Application, in which he detailed aquatic therapy methods for specific underwater exercises that “carefully regulated dosage, character, frequency, and duration for remedying bodily deformities and restoring muscle function” .
During the 1950s, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis supported the corrective swimming pools, and hydrogymnastics of Charles L. Lowman and the therapeutic use of pools and tanks for the treatment of poliomyelitis.
In 1962, Dr. Sidney Licht and a group of physiatrists organized the American Society of Medical Hydrology and Climatology, which historically met at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.