Therapeutic Benefits of Bathtubs, Jacuzzis and Air Spas

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.





Basic Benefits of Bathtubs


· Increased Blood Circulation.


· Muscle therapy improved blood circulation assists in relaxing tense muscles.


· Quicker recovery from fatigue and injury.


· Better Sleep, soaking in hot water for 15 minutes (approximately 90 minutes before going to bed) is an effective way to naturally encourage and induce the body into sleep.

· Relieve arthritis.


· Relieve stress due to the release of endorphins (which relieve tension and create a natural 'high').


There are a few different types of bathtubs on the market.

  • Standard bathtub, which is about 20” deep.

  • Soaking tubs, which have no air or jets but are deeper than the standard bathtub usually 25”-26” deep.

  • Jacuzzi or whirlpool tubs which are 25”-26” deep and have jets the whirlpool action is generated by a motor that circulates water from the tub into an inlet where the water is infused with air and dispensed out through whirlpool jets.
    • Whirlpool jets provide a more vigorous, focused massage as water sprays out of the jets which are strategically placed throughout your tub to hit specific areas such as your lower back, arms, hips, legs and feet.
  • Air spas, 25”-26” deep, agitate the water via an air blower forcing heated air through lines that lead to portals in the tub’s bottom. Air travels upward, massaging the body before reaching the surface.
    • Air bubbles can only travel straight up; therefore there is less water movement under the surface than with whirlpool.

  • Combination whirlpool/air spa tubs.

Comparison of Therapeutic Benefits of Tubs


Soaking tubs:

  • Provide heat and relaxation just soaking in water relieves stress and assists in hydrating the body.

  • Soaking tubs are deeper than regular tubs so they can be more difficult to step in/out of and more difficult for bathing young children because more bending is required to lift children in/out of the tub and to assist with cleaning.

Soaking tubs are my favorite because I find the heat and water to be relaxing and I don’t like the noise of the jetted tubs.



Jacuzzi or whirlpool tubs:

  • Whirlpools have proven hydrotherapy benefits. As such, certain therapies and treatments using true whirlpool baths are eligible for reimbursement under Medicare CPT billing code 97022.

  • Whirlpools are recognized to improve circulation by dilating blood vessels, enabling them to carry more oxygen and nutrients.

  • Whirlpools are recognized to alleviate pain associated with arthritis and muscle spasms, and help in the treatment of high blood pressure and migraines.

  • Studies indicate diabetic patients require reduced doses of insulin after hydrotherapy sessions.
  • Many physicians and therapists recommend hydrotherapy as part of a rehab program following surgery or injury.

  • Whirlpools cause less surface disturbance than air spas. This helps minimize chances of people with cognitive impairments becoming agitated and combative.

  • Whirlpools vaporize less water than air spas. Decreased surface agitation means less water (and corresponding pathogens) becomes airborne and potentially inhaled. This is an infection control advantage - especially with highly incontinent or immuno-compromised residents.

  • Jetted water assists in cleaning hard to reach areas.

Jacuzzi tubs have many therapeutic benefits, I enjoy the massage of sore muscles that jetted tubs provide but have difficulty tolerating the noise and the significant force of the jets for more than a few minutes.



Air Spas:

  • Softer massage than whirlpool tubs. Air spas don’t provide the deep tissue, muscle massage/relaxation of whirlpool tubs the air bubbles travel up from the bottom of the tub providing a softer touch that stimulates skin, blood circulation and the lymphatic system.

  • More calming and soothing than whirlpool tubs.

  • People with sensitive skin often prefer air spas, which provide therapeutic benefits without irritating the skin.

  • Buoyancy factor plays a key role in muscle therapy and assisting with improving movement. The buoyancy created by air spas reduces body weight by approximately 90 percent, resulting in a semi weightless suspension from the forces of gravity on your body. For people with limited range of motion and decreased strength air spas allow active movement increasing neurological control and strengthening muscles.

Air spas are great after a long, hard day when you just want a quiet, soothing experience good with wine, candles and bath salts.


Combination Whirlpool/Air Spa Tubs are probably the ultimate because the tub can be utilized purely for soaking or massage for sore muscles or soothing massage to decrease stress.


Quick Note on Walk-In Tubs:

  • Walk-in tubs are not appropriate for people with severe mobility issues since independent transfers are required to enter the walk-in tubs. Handicap or mobility tubs are on the market-that allow people with mobility issues to be transferred with the assistance of another person. If someone requires a patient lift to transfer these mobility tubs often have a space underneath for the legs of the lift to roll under.

Walk-In Tub
  • Walk-in tubs are deeper than regular tubs and allow for more soaking surface for the user. Due to increased water capacity walk-in tubs require two water heaters piggy backed to fill the tub.

  • There is always a chance of problems with leaking around the doors on walk-in tubs and not all tub companies will actively assist in fixing this issue when it arises.
  • Handicap or walk-in tubs take some time, usually 2-3 minutes to fill and drain. In standard tubs the user does not have to sit in the tub during filling/draining. In tubs with doors the user must sit and wait for tub to fill/drain. This wait time depends on the pressure of the water and the speed of the drainpipes more than on the tub itself.

I’m not a big fan of walk-in tubs due to maintenance difficulties and initial expense. People who have the walk-in tubs really seem to enjoy them because of ease of access and the whole body soaking experience.

If you would like to bath but have severe mobility issues you may want to look into bath lifts. Bath lifts are significantly cheaper than walk-in tubs and have fewer maintenance Handicap or Mobility Tub issues.


Important medical warning
If you have any serious illness or medical condition (for instance a heart condition or high blood pressure) consult your doctor before using a spa bath/jacuzzi/hot tub.

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