Florida Clinic Uses Aquatic Therapy To Treat Children With Autism Spectrum DisordersJanuary 24th, 2012
Fall River – Aquatic therapy is gaining support among physical therapists as an effective approach to help treat children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Outpatient Rehab Clinic at the Lakeland Regional Medical Center in Lakeland, Florida says utilizing the unique features of a SwimEx pool can add even more variety into exercise programs, to possibly further boost motor and sensory development.
According to Nicole McLain, DPT, “the pool provides a fun, safe alternative or addition to land based therapy. We can work on things like strengthening, stretching, balance, agility/coordination, swimming, diving under water, jumping and other gross motor skills. The warm water is soothing to the patient and allows for reduced muscle tone for children with high tone from neurologic origins or from muscle tightness.”
The SwimEx pool enables temperature and flow adjustments, helping to create ideal conditions for children, “It can be soothing and provide a sense of safety for some patients,” says Rosa Garcia, Pediatric Occupational Therapist at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. (Therapists provide a sensory assessment for patients prior to their first swim in order to gauge gravitational insecurities or tactile processing issues.) The unique paddlewheel technology created by SwimEx offers the widest, smoothest, deepest and strongest water counter current in the industry. The paddlewheel “pulls” the water rather than pushes, and generates a smooth wall of water extending up to 30 inches (76cm) in depth.
“Building that sense of security and comfort is necessary before we can start working with other skills in the pool. Therapy in the water also helps by providing a fun environment were the kids work hard without “knowing” they are. For most patients with body awareness limitations or those who need deep and/or proprioceptive input to be sensory organized, the movement in the water as well as the effort they have to put to complete their exercises improves and helps meet these needs,” says Garcia.
The findings from clinical studies suggest that clinicians are observing multiple benefits from the use of aquatic therapy for children with an ASD in many areas of function, which provides support for the use of aquatic therapy as an effective treatment option. Results of increased swim skills, motor skills, social skills, and water safety, as well as decreases in sensitivity to sensory stimuli are similar to the findings of Vonder Hulls et al. (2006) (Source)
McLain says the SwimEx pool offers a variety of features that traditional pools lack, “The aquatic environment provides a different and varying sensory environment for children with sensory integration difficulty. The colored areas for different floor heights are also good visual cues for children with difficulty following complex directions and enable them to work on agility and coordination with less assistance from the therapist.”
About Swim Ex:
SwimEx specializes in the design and manufacturing of superior fiberglass rehab and exercise swim spa pools for home and professional use. Our focus is centered upon controlling the therapeutic properties of water used for aquatic therapy to provide a nearly stress-free environment for rehabilitation. SwimEx is dedicated to building the finest swim spa swimming pools and rehabilitation equipment for home, sports, therapy and healthcare.
For more information on SwimEx, visit www.swimex.com
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