What is Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy is a fun and engaging way to incorporate the five therapeutic properties of water into treatment sessions. At the Children’s Rehabilitation Institute TeletonUSA (CRIT), therapists provide a specialized approach to tailor each session to meet every child’s therapy goals through interventions that sometimes cannot be achieved on land.

What are the five properties of water?

  1. Buoyancy is the ability of water to keep the body afloat. Water decreases body weight, making it easier to move. 
  2. Viscosity/cohesion: Water is thicker than air, and its resistance helps strengthen while promoting ease of movement. 
  3. Hydrostatic pressure is the pressure that water exerts on the body when submerged. This improves circulation, decreases swelling, and provides sensory input. 
  4. Turbulence is the unpredictable motion of water when a liquid is disturbed. It produces a massage effect, which can reduce pain. 
  5. Heat: Higher water temperatures aid in reducing spasticity/muscle tightness and soothe pain.

Who can provide aquatic therapy?

  • Physical Therapists 
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Speech Language Pathologists
  • Recreational Therapists

At CRIT, all therapists undergo specific aquatic therapy training to provide optimal treatment focusing on many areas, including strength, respiration, fine motor skills, tone management, sensory processing, coordination, social communication, range of motion, balance, language, and much more.

Although many children can benefit from aquatic therapy, it is only appropriate for some. If you are interested in trialing aquatic therapy to see if it will help your child, contact your therapist for more information.