Not only do physical therapists use their hands and other objects such as medicine balls on patients during therapy, but they also use mechanical objects as well. A hydrocollator heating unit is used to heat up "hot packs" that can be used as heating pads on patients with athletic injuries to their joints and muscles. The unit is quite useful but should be handled with caution to prevent any hazardous situations from occurring.


The hydrocollator is defined as a liquid heating device that is used in physical therapy clinics to heat and store hot packs for therapeutic uses. These heating units are stainless steel and offer a constant supply of temperature-consistent packs.


The packs are only meant to be heated in a hydrocollator. If they are heated in any other device, such as a microwave or an oven, they could be ruined and could potentially burst. The packs are designed to be heated in the hydrocollator and then simply placed on the patients desired body part that needs attention (e.g., back or neck).


While the hydrocollator is very useful and beneficial to therapy uses, it can be hazardous to users if not operated properly. As soon as any of the hot packs reveal signs of wear, destroy them and replace them immediately. Always unplug, empty the water from the tank and clean it and remove the packs when the unit is not being used. Do not attempt to move the hydrocollator when it is filled with water. This could result in tipping it over and having users being burned by the water.


Hydrocollators feature an immersion type heating element and a hydraulic capillary type thermostat that function to maintain the packs' temperature in the water. The tank is big enough to store a multitude of packs that are ready to be used as long as the unit is on and working properly. Since water is constantly lost while the unit is being operated (due to evaporation), it is important that water is added daily to the tank.

Considerations for Cleaning

Consider cleaning the interior of the unit every two weeks. You can use a low abrasive bathroom cleaner to do so. Always check to make sure there is either none or a low amount of chlorine content in your cleaner while cleaning. Rinse away any residue that is left standing and consider using water and vinegar to dissolve away deposits.