Most children love to play in water – and play is the best way a child learns. Especially now that the summer months are rolling around, aquatic therapy can be a highly beneficial addition to a child’s PT program.
Exercising in water provides relaxation and gives both proprioceptive and calming input. Virtually all aquatic activities help children develop muscles and key skills that will benefit them outside the water. Along with enhancing muscle strength, endurance, balance and coordination, by adding peers into the fun, aquatic therapy can help build social skills, confidence and friendships.
Try These Activities
Here are seven fun ways to use water as part of your pediatric PT regime:
Have children ride water noodles like a horse.
Kids “ride the horse” across the pool to feed him out of a bucket and then “ride” back to the starting point. Have them do this back and forth across the pool
Loop a noodle in a U shape and have children sit on it like a swing.
Have them maintain their balance while tossing a ball to you.
Have kids use a noodle as if they are jumping rope.
This works the arm muscles, as the child pushes the noodle under the water.
Hold one end of a noodle or large towel, have a child hold the other end and pull them around the pool in different ways.
Adjust your speed, pulling quickly and then changing to a slow pace. Ask the child to hold on with both hands while laying on their back, then try it while they lie on their tummy, and then their side.
Use flippers on kids’ hands or feet to increase resistance and strengthen muscles.
Pretend the child is on a scuba excursion and drop interesting things on the bottom of the pool for them to search for. Adding cuff weights made specifically for water use is an added plus.
Use a raft as a pretend boat.
Children can sit on top of the raft, hold a paddle with both hands and pretend they are in a canoe. The work they do while alternating the paddle across their body works on body awareness, crossing the mid-line and bilateral integration.
Play with water shooters.
Use shooters that are large enough so children need to use both hands to fill them up and shoot them. Make a bull’s eye pattern on a tree or large box at the edge of the pool and see who shoots the most accurately.
The unique properties of water – including its buoyancy, resistance and viscosity – can have an unmatched impact on therapy progress.
As your school year winds down, consider using summertime to enhance your school-based therapy career, either by improving your skills and contacts for the upcoming academic year or searching for a great new opportunity. Explore your options by contacting the Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services team today.