How can swimming help my child?
Swimming is a great way to build confidence in your child. This very social activity allows children to fit in with their peer group. It also promotes lifelong safety when participating in water sports such as boating, water skiing, jet skiing, etc.
The effects of buoyancy in water enhances one’s ability to perform skills in the water. The effects of gravity (which feels like weight) are reduced in water making you feel lighter. This is why when standing in water it is easy to float your arm on the surface of the water. Movement is simply easier in water.
Aquatic therapy enhances the effects of land therapy. Aquatic therapy is not as beneficial if the strength and endurance gained in the water is not used to improve skills on the land. So aquatic therapy is recommended in addition to land therapy so functional skills that will be used on land can be challenged and tested.
Therapy in the water will increase strength, endurance, range of motion, joint mobility and flexibility as well as venous return (circulation).
The child is often more cooperative in the water since their safety is a factor. A child cannot try to run away. In fact, the child prefers to stay near you as you offer comfort and safety.
Water forces a child to work quite hard in the water. For example, to achieve back strength (trunk extension), place the child on their belly. Water strongly encourages a child to lift their head so they do not take in water through their mouth. This action of lifting the head out of water while on their belly is trunk/neck extension. This position is harder to achieve, and for sure to maintain, on land. Thus, the child will gain more strength and endurance in their back muscles in the water. When the child exits the pool, he/she will have more success with skills on land due to the strength and endurance gained in the water.
An aquatic mat can be used during aquatic therapy to challenge balance and coordination in the water. A child can sit, kneel, stand or lie on the mat to challenge skills. The water itself creates an imbalanced surface as well as the therapist can move the mat for further challenges.
Water is fun! Water makes therapy fun! Children are more willing and get great results when they are having fun.
If your child has challenges that you think aquatic therapy will help, reach out to your pediatrician for advice. A physical therapy evaluation will need to be performed on land then the water fun can begin! http://www.abcpediatrictherapy.com can help. Here’s to having developmental success in the water!