Therapy can be a tough time for a young child. Due to activities that are at times painful and/or boring, some children resist going to their therapy sessions and don’t enjoy their time there. Aqua therapy may be an option for some children with special needs and it won’t even feel like therapy. Children who love the water may enjoy going to their session. Many people don’t think of aqua therapy when they hear the word “therapy,” but it can have many benefits. To inform you about aqua therapy and to share the benefits, we created this post so you can decide whether aqua therapy may work for your child.
Aqua Therapy for Children with Special Needs (Including Cerebral Palsy)
What is the basic definition of aqua therapy? It is a “physical therapy that takes place in a pool or other aquatic environment under the supervision of a trained healthcare professional”. Professionals have to use the American Medical Association Current Procedural Terminology codes, and aquatic therapy is a whole other certificate on top of their training (in the US). It is important to make sure that your child’s instructor has all the training needed.
What makes aqua therapy different from regular therapy is that it takes place in water. Water can add a little fun to the therapy session and it can also be relaxing. Another special thing about water is that it is easier to “learn to move in the non-restrictive environment of the water”. It provides a low impact area and warm water relaxes stiff muscles. Also, because there is less gravity in water, it is easier for children move with less strength.
Thinking back about the history of aquatic therapy, we discover that water therapy is not something new and has been used for thousands of years. For example, hot springs were used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to help improve circulation and relaxation. The Hippocrates also believed that bathing in spring water could treat sicknesses. The Japanese hot springs (onsens) are thought to help heel chronic pain, treat skin disorders, and relieve constipation. You can read more about these facts and more by clicking here.
There are many benefits that aqua therapy can provide. Like any therapy, benefits may not be seen right away and regular practice is needed. Some benefits include:
- Decrease in pain and muscle spasms
- Decrease in rigid muscles and joint compression
- Increase in mobility and range of motion
- Increase in balance and coordination
- Increase in trunk stability and posture
- Increase muscle strength and endurance
- Increase perceptual and spatial awareness
It can also benefit your child’s psychological mind. These benefits include:
- Better mood and increased patience
- Improved body image
- Higher self-esteem
- Decrease stress and tension
- Increase energy
Aqua therapy may be a great alternative to traditional therapy for your child or it might be a good addition to their current therapies. It is important to make sure your child’s instructor has all the training required and that your child is comfortable with them. Aqua therapy can have many benefits with regular practice and it may not even feel like therapy for your child. It may be something to check into with your child’s doctor and see if it might be worth a try.