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Swim Lab International
A happy toddler looking out of the pool for a toy to take back to his therapy session

Benefits of Aquatic therapy for children with neurological and developmental disorders

We use paediatric aquatic therapy to help your child develop skills more quickly than they would with land-based therapy alone.

As you probably know, more than 50% of our body weight is water, and that weight combined with gravity affects the way we move. Using Aquatic therapy reduces that body weight by a whopping 90%. With the water supporting your child’s body weight, they can enjoy a sense of freedom and move in ways that just aren’t possible on land.

We use fun, playful activities so our children don’t feel like they’re doing therapy.

Development happens naturally building strength, coordination, endurance, balance, range of motion and more. As he or she gains confidence in the water, we transfer the skills they learn in the pool onto dry land. It’s the secret to our success and helps to grow their self-esteem as much as their ability.

benefits of aquatic therapy can be seen with this teenage lad who is happily buoyant in the water at the side of the pool

Who can Aquatic therapy help?

The great thing about aquatic therapy is that it’s suitable for just about any child with a neurological or developmental disorder. There’s no blueprint for how to treat your child. Every child is different, with their own challenges and capabilities. We can easily adapt the aquatic activities, and combine them with land-based therapy, to help your child develop whatever skills they currently have and work towards their goals.

We take children from age 3 onwards. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t yet comfortable with the water. We often have children starting with us who don’t want to put their face in the water on the first day, but by the end of the week they’ve totally confident with it.

Some of the conditions we’ve been able to help with include:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • ADHD
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy
  • Muscle Incoordination
  • Orthopedic Impairments
  • Rett Syndrome
  • Sensory Processing Disorders
  • Down Syndrome
  • Other rare syndromes with limited conventional treatment options
A Swim Lab International therpaist floating on pool noodles and supporting a girl laying on her back in the pool in front of her

Using the natural properties of the water

The viscosity of the water provides us with a natural resistance, which we use to our advantage with activities. For example, we use sponges to “clean the pool” – where the child takes one sponge in each hand as they swim, allowing them to feel that resistance more easily and push against it.

We know that children make the most progress when they’re relaxed. Being in a beautiful, warm, outdoor pool, surrounded by palm trees in a sunny location feels much less intimidating than a typical medical centre. The warm water also helps relax the muscles, allowing for even more freedom and range of movement.

Your child’s heart will beat a little faster when they’re in the water, due to the hydrostatic pressure, helping to improve circulation and cardiovascular functioning. Learning to control breathing in a pool is also massively beneficial in helping your child improve his or her breath control on land and for speech development.

Other benefits of aquatic therapy include:

  • reduced muscle spasticity with less rigidity
  • increased head and neck control
  • improved muscle tone
  • better endurance
  • improved gross motor skills
  • elevated metabolism
  • relieving any joint stress
  • increasing core and midline strength
  • more flexibility
  • extended range of motion
  • better sleep patterns
  • increased stability
A girl swimming on her side as part of her Swim Lab International therapy programme, with her therapist adjusting her posture with a pool noodle

Keeping it fun

Playing in the water, not just in our sessions, but being able to play with siblings or other children can also improve social skills.

As our children gain confidence and skills in the pool, we see the sense of accomplishment improve their self-esteem out of the pool too. Parents often tell us they notice their child develop more confidence in themselves, feeling braver to try new things, knowing they can master new skills.

underwater shot of a girl smiling at the camera, supported by a pool noodle and blowing bubbles from her mouth

Ready to give it a try?

We see our children make massive progress during their intensive therapy weeks with us. We currently offer weeks in Lanzarote and in pop-up locations within Europe. From 2023 onwards we’ll also be offering weeks from our center in Florida.

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