What is more fun than water? When we think back to our most enjoyable childhood memories, you can bet that water is in most of them: Jumping into a crystal-clear, refreshing pool on a hot summer day; playing with water balloons in the back yard with our friends; squirting our brothers or sisters with the garden hose when they least expected it; and running through the sprinkler for hours on end! Kids love water! Water can make any activity fun for kids! If your child currently receives, or currently needs, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy, aquatic therapy could be a fun and highly beneficial addition to your child’s therapy program.

“Can my child benefit from aquatic therapy?” The answer is almost always an enthusiastic, “Yes!” Children with many different types of diagnoses and goals can benefit greatly from the advantages of having their therapy conducted in the water. Children with Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries, Down syndrome, sensory processing disorders, developmental delays, cognitive delays, healing fractures, muscle injuries, juvenile arthritis, cardiopulmonary disorders, chronic pain, hyperactivity, pediatric stroke, hypertonia, speech delays, and countless other diagnoses, can benefit greatly from aquatic therapy.

“What is so great about water?” you might ask. “Absolutely everything!” The unique properties of water have an unmatched impact on therapeutic progress:

–Buoyancy: The buoyancy of water removes the effects of gravity, allowing children who cannot walk on land, walk in the water; children who do not have the muscle strength to exercise on land, exercise in the water; and children who cannot fully weight-bear on land, due to recent surgery or a broken bone, weight-bear in the water. The buoyancy of water also allows children with decreased endurance due to heart or lung problems, to enjoy fun (and therapeutic) physical activities while in the water, that their hearts or lungs are not strong enough to tolerate on-land.

–Resistance: The resistance of water provides calming and consistent sensory feedback. Children who are sensory seeking, hyperactive, or have difficulty focusing on activities during therapy on-land, are calmed and neurologically organized by the resistance of the water pushing on them from all directions, with consistent pressure, the entire time they are in the water. This constant, neurologically-organizing, sensory input allows these children to focus, learn new things, and reach their therapy goals sooner (and can also decrease hyperactivity for a few hours following therapy, as well as improve sleep patterns). The resistance of water also allows for easier muscle strengthening and endurance training, when used as a true method of formal resistance, with specific, pre-determined, repetitive movements, performed with the intent of strengthening specific muscle groups.

–Warmth: The warmth of the water warms muscle tissue for better, easier, and pain-free stretching, for improved passive range of motion. The warmth of the water also provides yet another form of sensory input (heat) to those sensory-seeking individuals, that acts to calm the sensory system.

–Viscosity: The viscosity of the water is what makes the water so much fun! Splashing, making waves, pouring and throwing water, not only improves active range of motion, muscle strength, and endurance, but it is also REALLY FUN! It provides a unique opportunity for multi-sensory feedback (visual stimuli, tactile stimuli, proprioceptive stimuli, kinesthetic stimuli, and auditory stimuli) that kids just can’t get enough of!

–Auditory feedback: The auditory feedback that occurs during aquatic play/aquatic therapy, in an indoor pool, not only from the unique sound of water hitting water, but also from the unique sound of sound-waves hitting the walls and reverberating back to the listener, is an amazing motivator for children who have speech delays, to produce sounds and words! When children hear the amplification and echoes of sounds that they are producing with speech therapy toys used to strengthen oral-motor musculature or improve lung capacity, the children make more sounds! When children hear the amplification and echo of their own voices, it motivates those kids to produce more vocalizations! Sound production in an indoor pool is a fun way to jump-start speech therapy! Kids make more noise when there is more of an auditory reward! Echoes are fun! Noise amplification is fun! Kids love sound, and it motivates them to make more sound!

–Uniqueness: The unique setting of an indoor pool, for most children, is very motivating and makes therapy even more fun! All activities that can be done on-land (and may seem dull or monotonous on-land) can be done in, or around, the pool, and seem fun and completely non-therapeutic! Self-care skills are a great example. Children often look at dressing, grooming, hygiene, etc., as boring and mundane, but done in preparation for getting into the pool makes them exciting activities with a great reward at the end! In preparation for each aquatic therapy session, children have the opportunity to practice restroom skills (as everyone has to go prior to entering the pool), dressing skills while changing from street clothes into a swimsuit, plus grooming and hygiene skills, while showering, prior to entering the pool (which we can add shampooing and washing to), and the reward at the end is awesome – The Pool! Additionally, fine-motor activities, developmental skills, cognitive skills, and muscle strengthening skills, can all be done from the pool. Stations, or, “Islands,” can be created, that a child, “boats to,” on the water mat, water cushion, or boogie board, where he completes an activity before, “boating,” on to the next station or, “Island!” I hope that you are starting to see how much fun aquatic therapy can be, and that the therapeutic benefits to your child are countless!

Call us to add aquatic therapy to your child’s therapy program!

All aquatic therapy at My Left Foot Children’s Therapy is provided by state licensed, nationally board certified Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Speech Therapists (no COTAs, no PTAs, no CFs, no therapy aids, and no therapy students), unlike our competition. WE are the only pediatric therapy clinic in the Las Vegas Valley, (including Henderson) who can say that!

All of our aquatic therapists also hold current certifications in Adult, Child, and Infant CPR and First Aid. WE are the only pediatric therapy clinic in the Las Vegas Valley, (including Henderson) who can say that!

Your child does not need to be able to transfer into and out-of the pool, as we have a top-of-the-line pool lift, to easily transfer wheelchair-bound children into and out-of the pool. WE are the only pediatric therapy clinic in the Las Vegas Valley, (including Henderson) who can say that!

Childhood should be fun! We want to make it fun for your child and help create some great childhood memories, while helping your child reach all of his or her goals!

So what are you waiting for? Jump into aquatic therapy at My Left Foot Children’s Therapy today!