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Aquatic Therapy - What is it and Why do it?

What is it?

Aquatic Therapy can be defined as a “therapeutic procedure which attempts to improve function through the application of aquatic therapeutic exercise” (Salzman, 2009). Water properties of buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, and thermodynamics have been credited with aiding the effectiveness of therapies in the aquatic environment (Becker, 2009; Broach & Dattilo, 1996; Dale, MacDonald, & Messer, 2005).

Aquatic Occupational Therapy is a creative approach to rehabilitation and ongoing therapy, allowing clients to maximise function in varied environments.

Why should I do it?

Buoyancy helps to reduce the load of body weight and can be used to assist, support, or to provide resistance (Becker, 2009; Broach & Dattilo, 1996). Hydrostatic pressure exerts an equal and consistent amount of pressure on all submerged parts of the body, and provides resistance to help increase muscle strength and aerobic capacity without overstressing soft tissue (Fragala-Pinkham, Haley, & O’Neil, 2008; Getz, Hutzler, & Vermeer, 2006).

Aquatic Occupational Therapy can be used to develop the skills required to perform everyday occupations by targeting:

  • Strength

  • Range of Motion

  • Balance

  • Cognition

Who should do it?

Everyone and anyone! Aquatic Therapy sessions are run by a qualified Occupational Therapist, with additional qualifications in Aquatic rescue for Hydrotherapy, ensuring your child is in safe hands. Therapy sessions are completed in shallow water, where the child is able to stand.

Aquatic Therapy can be particularly beneficial for:

  • The kiddo who struggles with strengthening and coordination goals on land - the water provides a safe, buoyant environment to move.

  • Clients who have difficulty maintaining balance while walking. Aquatic Therapy can work to address postural control and allow freedom of movement.

  • Children that are experiencing sensory regulation challenges. Water provides constant sensory input, providing deep pressure through the whole body. When regulated, the world is your oyster in terms of functional goals to target in the water!

  • Those who are in a bit of a therapy slump! Change up the environment, if your child loves the water - why not see if we can incorporate that into their therapy!

Take a look at Aquatic Therapy in action:

Contact Ashlee (now located at our Broome clinic) to further discuss how Aquatic Therapy can work for your child on 0437 334 141 or email


Becker, B. E. (2009). Aquatic therapy: Scientific foundations and clinical rehabilitation applications. American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 1, 859- 872. doi:10.1016/j.pmrj.2009.05.017

Broach, E. & Dattilo, J. (1996). Aquatic therapy: A viable therapeutic recreation intervention. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 30(3), 213-229.

Fragala-Pinkham, M., Haley, S. M., & O’Neil, M. E. (2008). Group aquatic aerobic exercise for children with disabilities. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 50, 822-827.

Getz, M., Hutzler, Y., & Vermeer, A. (2006). Effects of aquatic interventions in children with neuromotor impairments: a systematic review of the literature. Retrieved from Effects of aquatic interventions in children with neuromotor impairments: a systematic review of the literature - Miriam Getz, Yeshayahu Hutzler, Adri Vermeer, 2006 (

Salzman, A. P. (2009). Aquatic therapy: Procedure or profession? Retrieved from


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