OTD, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist
Aquatic therapy is treatment provided by an occupational therapist (OT) or a physical therapist (PT) in an aquatic environment. It is an alternative to land-based services and utilizes an aquatic environment for skilled treatment, and can be used in place of or in combination with traditional therapies. The inherent properties of water are utilized to enhance treatment and provide an environment that is fun, engaging, and motivating when it is being utilized as a therapy medium. Aquatic therapy is designed to develop specific functional skills essential to the performance of land-based tasks.
Aquatic therapy, just as OT or PT, begins with an assessment of a child’s skills, abilities, and the family’s concerns. Assessment occurs on land, and is essential to determining if aquatic therapy is beneficial and appropriate for the child as well as if it will support therapy in meeting the family’s goals. Aquatic therapy takes place in a warm-water pool using therapy devices that help in positioning the body and can provide resistance. The child does not need to be able to swim and is not fully submerged during therapy.
Aquatic therapy uses water as a therapy medium for clients that would benefit from partial weightlessness, or the sensation or pressure of water to achieve land based functional outcomes. Inherent properties of water make it an enhanced media for therapy for kids to work on strength, coordination, and provide opportunities to work on self-care goals. Some of the of the benefits that have been seen include:
Research has shown that there are many individuals that can benefit from the use of aquatic therapy. Below are some diagnoses that have been shown to benefit:
To find out more about aquatic therapy, you can reach out to Mary McCollum at email@example.com, or call High Hopes in Dubai at +971 04 333 3509.
1 Cole, A.J. & Becker, B.E. (Eds.). (2004). Comprehensive Aquatic Therapy. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Inc.
2 Darcy S. Vonder Hulls, Lisa K. Walker & Janet M. Powell (2009) Clinicians’ Perceptions of the Benefits of Aquatic Therapy for Young Children with Autism, Physical & Occupational Therapy In Pediatrics,26:1-2, 13-22, DOI: 10.1080/J006v26n01_03
3 Dorval, G., Tetreault, S. & Caron, C. (1996). Impact of Aquatic Programmes on Adolescents with Cerebral Palsy. Occupational therapy international, 3(4) 241-261. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/oti.39
4 Kucher, G.; Moore, K. Rodia R. & Moser, C.S. (2015) Aquatic Therapy for Children, Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention, 8(4), 277-291, DOI: 10.1080/19411243.2015.1113104
5 Lai, C.-J., Liu, W.-Y., Yang, T.-F., Chen, C.-L., Wu, C.-Y., & Chan, R.-C. (2015). Pediatric Aquatic Therapy on Motor Function and Enjoyment in Children Diagnosed With Cerebral Palsy of Various Motor Severities. Journal of Child Neurology, 30(2), 200–208. https://doi.org/10.1177/0883073814535491
6 McManus, B. M., Kotelchuck, M. (2007). The Effect of Aquatic Therapy on Functional Mobility of Infants and Toddlers in Early Intervention. Pediatric Physical Therapy, 19(4). 275-282. DOI: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e3181575190