Aquatic therapy for Autism and Cerebral Palsy

therapy autism and cerebral palsy teenager

Alternative therapy for Cerebral Palsy and Autistic Teenagers

Throughout their lives, teenagers suffering from cerebral palsy and autism get frustrated by physical and mental limitations. Some are simply not physically able to participate in certain activities. While others are unable to handle the over-stimulation of contact sports and teenagers running around. So, why not place these teenagers in an environment that allows them the freedom to move around, while providing just enough sensory input to soothe and calm them down?

Gravity and body weight impacts the way the body moves, significantly limiting cerebral palsy teenagers’ movement. However, due to the properties of water, these efffects are nearly completely reversed when submerged in water. This allows children, teenagers and adults alike to ambulate freely. In addition, the warmth of the water has a massage effect on muscles, joints and ligaments that are often over-used and painful. Range of movement is also significantly increased, while stretching and balancing is made easier in the safe environment. At the same time the heart also pumps more rigorously due to the hydrostatic pressure. The benefit of this includes decreased swelling, reduced blood pressure and improved joint position; and in turn greater body awareness.

Benefits of Hydrotherapy

These physical benefits are experienced by both cerebral palsy and autistic teenagers. Emotionally and psychologically these teenagers can further benefit from aquatic therapy. Also know as hydrotherapy, this treatment is generally performed in a heated therapy pool. The heat of the water aids in relaxation. This, along with hydrostatic pressure that soothes and calms autistic teenagers as they experience an adequate amount of sensory stimulation, results in many of the following benefits: Increase in attention, touch tolerance and initiation and maintenance of eye contact. Autistic, as well as cerebral palsy, teenagers participating in hydrotherapy sessions have also shown improvements in self confidence, resulting in greater social and athletic performance.

Further Reading:
1. Aquatic therapy for an ASD
2. CerebralPalsy.Org

Author Jenna-Lee Field

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