Project Description

Aquatic Therapy

What is aquatic therapy?

Aquatic therapy entails the use of a pool environment to carry out physical rehabilitation programs. It could be thought of as an extension of physical therapy, occupational therapy and therapeutic recreation.  Aquatic therapy can be used to treat neurological conditions (e.g. acquired brain injury, spinal cord injury), musculoskeletal impairments (e.g. dystonia, orthopedic injuries), pain (e.g. joint ailments, fibromyalgia), limb loss, and general debilitation.

The goal of aquatic therapy is to improve or maintain your: 1

  • Aerobic capacity
  • Balance, coordination, and agility
  • Body mechanics
  • Postural control
  • Flexibility
  • Gait
  • Muscle strength, power, or endurance
  • Relaxation

Receiving therapy in the pool may improve tolerance for certain activities, as it is a low impact activity.  The most compelling reason for therapy in an aquatic environment is the buoyancy factor.  For many individuals who have mobility or range of motion limitations, the reduced effect of gravity, simply by being in the water, provides them opportunities for practicing skills or increasing strength and/or coordination that they could not complete on land.  Additionally, the warm water can help people perform some activities with less pain, and can improve body awareness.

What does a typical session look like?

Prior to session, you will change into your bathing suit in our locker room.  You may access the pool via a lift or the pool stairs.  Once you are in the pool, you will warm up your muscles and then complete activities designed to address your personal goals.  You may use equipment to help keep you afloat or to help you complete certain exercises.

what kind of training does an aquatic therapist have?

Aquatic therapy sessions are led by Physical Therapists, Recreational Therapists, Kinesiologists and Exercise Physiologists.  These staff members have training and certifications in Aquatic Therapy.  Under the direction of a specially trained staff member, direct care staff may also provide assistance in the pool during session.


Aquatic Physical Therapy Section FAQs. Aquatic Physical Therapy Section. 2014. Available at: Accessed May 19, 2014.