Aquatic Physical Therapy

Many caregivers are surprised to learn that physical therapy is often conducted in water. Children with decreased strength are able to move, explore and exercise their muscles and joints more easily in water. Physical therapy conducted in water has been shown to improve strength, flexibility and endurance.

Aquatic physical therapy is conducted in our state-of-the-art aquatic area at CHOC Children’s under the constant supervision of our therapists. Each child’s caregiver is encouraged to be present and even participate to some degree in each aquatic therapy session.

Watch a CHOC Children’s physical therapist demonstrate an aquatic therapy session with a baby.

Why does my child need aquatic therapy?

Aquatic physical therapy benefits a number of different diagnoses including:

What are the benefits of aquatic physical therapy?

Patients in water are able to perform movements that would be impossible on land. The water makes gravity less and allows the child to have more movement than he or she would on land. Patients with arthritis are able to perform their therapy pain-free in warm water.

What if my child cannot swim?

Most of the pool is shallow and each of our therapists enters the pool with the child to ensure safety. We also have floatation devices for both safety and as part of the therapeutic exercises.

How will my child get into the pool?

If the child cannot walk, we have a special lift that helps our patients up and into the pool and out of the pool at the end of the therapy session.

Does insurance cover aquatic therapy?

Each health insurance provider is different and a special authorization is usually needed before a patient can begin aquatic therapy.

Please speak with the child’s therapists or physicians about any of your specific questions.