Water can provide a fun and motivating environment for therapy! Our therapists use principles and properties of the water and specially designed aquatic activities to help children make progress toward functional goals outside of the pool. Aquatic therapy can be beneficial for so many reasons! Some indications for aquatic therapy include but are not limited to sensory impairments, muscle weakness, decreased coordination, joint pain, and limitations in range of motion. Therapists work on addressing the above impairments in the water to make progress toward your therapy goals on land.

Our aquatic therapy pools are generally set to a comfortable 88-92 degrees, which is warmer than a normal pool. The warm water helps improve circulation and to relax muscles and reduce joint pain to better tolerate stretching. The buoyancy and resistance of the water can be used to assist in range of motion exercises and to reduce muscle spasticity.

The properties of the water create many opportunities for strengthening! The resistance and buoyancy of the water can make exercises more challenging to build strength. The use of flotation devices and equipment to increase surface area where the movement is occurring are used to make exercises more challenging while in the water, such as kick boards, hand mits, pool noodles, and wrist/ankle weights. By placing the child in a variety of floating positions such as lying on their back, stomach, or side, therapists can promote strengthening of the neck and upper extremities that the child may not tolerate outside of the water.

Children may have an easier time reaching gross motor milestones, such as rolling, walking and jumping in the water due to the water’s buoyancy. A child with cerebral palsy may learn to roll in the water with the assist of a therapist and the buoyancy of the water. Once the nervous and musculoskeletal system in the child’s body learn how to roll in the water, it will be easier to learn on a mat table in the clinic and then transfer to rolling at home.

For children with sensory processing difficulties, the hydrostatic pressure of the water can provide the deep pressure input that they crave. This deep pressure and overall increased tactile (touch) input can help a child who has difficulty processing sensory information remain calm and organized to better participate in therapeutic activities.

For children with speech delays, aquatic therapy can be very helpful. Techniques such as holding their breath under water, deep breathing and raising their arms up and then down with the resistance of water can all help with improved breath support for speaking. Speech therapy in the pool can also be highly motivating for stimulating new vocabulary and language.

Aquatic therapy is provided at the WHS WRC Cameron Wellness Center.