A Brief Introduction to Aquatic Therapy in Children
Aquatic Therapy is the use of water and specifically designed activity by qualified personnel to aid in the restoration, extension, maintenance and quality of function for persons with acute, transient, or chronic disabilities, syndromes or diseases. Aquatic Therapy goals for children are based on land specific expected functional performance. Water offers children with a fun, safe and supportive environment and they may experience physical, cognitive, and psychosocial benefits in the water. When aquatic therapy is done in the pool, water provides with significant amount of tactile, proprioceptive and vestibular input and can help improve functional motor development, body awareness, sensory integration, balance and coordination and fine and gross motor and social skills.
Evidence based practice: Following are select studies showing benefits of aquatic therapy in children: 1. After 10 weeks of water exercise swimming program in two phases for 16 boys on the autism spectrum, both groups showed an improvement in aquatic skills and social skills. (Chien-Yu Pan, 2010, Autism). 2. A study with 22 children with cerebral palsy who received aquatic intervention appearared to have a positive impact on the perceived social acceptance and social function as reported by the caregivers.( Getz, M., Hutzler, Y., Vermeer, A. 2007, European Journal of Special Needs Education) 3. Clinicians reported perceived improvement in swim skills, attention, balance, muscle strength, tolerating touch, initiating/maintaining eye contact, and water safety in children with autism ( Vonder Hulls,D.S.; Walker,L.K.; Powell,J.M., 2006, Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics). 4. After eight weeks of hydrotherapy, an 11-year old girl with Rett’s syndrome showed improvement in feeding activities and hand skills, improved walking balance and interaction with environment, and decrease in