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Medical spas in Europe were the first to offer corona recovery concepts and the current situation have given top priority to balneology and SPA medicine

by Csilla Mezos, ESPA-European Spas Association

At ITB Now, the world's leading tourism trade fair during Medical Tourism Convention, the European Spas Association gave insights into the adapted strategy in European medical spas and climatic health resorts with the initiatives of corona recovery concepts. ESPA is confident that these efforts will benefit many patients affected by Covid19.

Secretary General started the presentation with the key words post-corona rehabilitation, lifestyle changes, prevention and balancing of the immune system, healthy lifestyle in Europe's health resorts and spas.

Claude-Eugène BOUVIER, general delegate of the French association of 110 thermal establishments Cneth, presented the programme addressing post-COVID syndrome. The objectives of the "Thermal treatment of long COVID" is to enable patients to recover as fully as possible within the duration of the cure, i.e. 3 weeks, aiming at a return to the level of independence prior to the illness. This mainly involves respiratory rehabilitation and exercise reconditioning.
The programme combines thermal treatments, at a rate of 4 treatments per day for 18 days, and a rehabilitation based on the acquisition of skills that the patient can apply when he/she returns home (respiratory rehabilitation, muscular reinforcement, improvement of balance, exercise training, psychological support). It is a multidisciplinary approach at the heart of which the physiotherapist plays a central role. 
The contribution of the crisis is unquestionably the widening of the thermal medicine activity fields, and the investment of new domains of competence linked to the care of the post-Covid patients as thermal cares can bring an efficient answer to a public health problem. The main note is that the most common symptoms are frequently treated in spas as a daily routine and outside the context of COVID, which legitimizes the creation of a specific spa offer. Here we underline that this type of Post Corona programme, besides the benefits it brings to the patients, values the role of the thermal medicine by integrating it more into the public health system.


Dr. Friedhart Raschke from Germany presented essential concepts about the preventive improvement of immune functions, and also speeding up recovery from post covid-19 syndrome (fatigue, headache, muscle-pain, sleep disturbances, depression) by application of maritime SPA, thalasso- and climato-therapy. He presented medical studies about the application of the healing power of the Sea water and maritime climate and he informed the ITB audience in detail about the effects of thalasso treatment and about the integration of nutrition, Balneology, Kneipp, physical activities on the seaside. Finally, very good results were shown with fatigue and burnout patients at the North Sea as the subject of the study in comparison to the standard rehabilitation program. Dr. Raschke carried out his research as Medical Director of the Staatsbad Norderney, where the largest and most modern thalasso Badehaus in Germany is located.


Mike Wallace, health spa and wellness expert from Budapest presented his view on the expansive opportunities that thermal and thalasso spas can tap into in the post covid era. Lockdowns, financial insecurity and time to think have had their impact on people's mental health and outlook on life. By widening the scope from physical rehabilitation to an all-round health and prevention approach spas can cater for this new demand. He presented good examples of treatment in European medical spas and he listed the benefits of Health Destinations like scenic and beautiful, green, sustainable locations; the medical clinical standards of hygiene which make the main difference to other touristic destinations; and non-crowded accommodation plus the highly trained medical staff.
The European medical spas offer an important complementary option to the vaccine. Even the vaccine works better on the population's immune system if it is kept at the maximum level of optimization.