Hydrocollator Unit – Large


A Hydrocollators is a thermostatically controlled liquid heating device designed to heat bentonite-filled packs in water up to 160 degrees where the packs will be removed and wrapped in several layers of toweling and applied to the affected body area of a patient to relieve acute pain or relax certain muscle groups. Hydrocollators are often used by kinesiologists, sports trainers, physical therapists, and in rehab clinics and chiropractic offices.

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How does a hydrocollator work?

Whether it’s a stationary or mobile model, a hydrocollator uses an immersion heating unit in a tank to bring water up to therapeutic temperatures of around 160 degrees. A hydraulic capillary thermostat monitors and maintains the water temperature to ensure consistent heating of the packs. The tanks are made of stainless steel to ensure a long, useful life and are insulated to retain heat for enhanced energy efficiency and to prevent burns. Their capacities start at four packs to make sure that the therapist or trainer always has one at proper temperature on hand for the patients who need them.

The packs are made of bentonite, a mineral that holds heat for up to 30 minutes. They come in a variety of sizes so they may be wrapped around neck and shoulders or knees and elbows as well as smaller joints. Packs are removed from the tank with tongs and well-drained to avoid scalding the therapist or the patient. Next, they are wrapped in three to five layers of toweling or a cover to prevent direct contact with the patient’s skin. Then the pack is applied to the affected body area and left in place for 15 to 30 minutes.

New packs need to be soaked for at least 20 minutes. They can be stored in the hydrocollator after use. They should not be allowed to dry out or placed in the microwave due to the mineral content.

Hydrocollators should be drained and cleaned every two weeks for optimum sanitation. Always drain the water from the tank before moving it to avoid burns in case the unit tips.

When are they hydrocollators used?

Hydrocollators are used to heat packs when treatment by moist, penetrating heat is indicated. Moisture delivers the heat to the deeper layers of muscle and into the joints, resulting in pain relief and the elimination of stiffness along with enhanced circulation. Conditions that benefit from the use of hydrocollator packs include various forms of arthritis, lower back pain, TMJ, neck spasms, migraine headaches, chronic injuries caused by repetition and overuse, and children’s myofascial pain.

The packs are used before physical therapy treatments to allow maximum range of both passive and active motion during exercises. The heating effects last for up to an hour after treatment.

Moist heat packs are contraindicated during the acute phase of an injury, when the patient has a co-morbid issue such as diabetic neuropathy or other issue that interferes with temperature sensations, circulation problems including DVT, or infections or malignant tumors.

Where are hydrocollators used?

Utilized by sports trainers, kinesiologists, physical therapists and other healthcare practitioners, hydrocollators are used in physical therapy clinics, physical rehab centers, athletic training facilities and chiropractic offices.


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