Improving quality of life for the differently abled Children & Adults

Lauren's Institute for Education » Featured Stories » Using the Pool for Therapy Fun!

Using the Pool for Therapy Fun!

by Abbey Betlach PT, DPT                                                            

The pool is a great place to have fun, but it is also a great place to exercise and work on therapy goals with the kids. Outdoor pool are good in the summer, but do not get used as much once the temperature cools off, however, it can still be a great resource for your family if it is available. Indoor pools at the local recreational center or exercise gym can be used during the winter months to perform therapy activities

Balance is one goal that can be addressed using the pool. Have your child balance on one leg while standing in the water for as long as possible (perform on both legs). Turn this activity into a game involving the whole family, and see who can balance the longest on 1 leg. You can also have your child balance on an aqua noodle or kick board with both feet like they are surfing in the pool. Make this activity more challenging by having them balance on 1 foot on the equipment. The edge of the pool can be used for support to help with balance at first. Walking along of the edge of the pool like a balance beam is also another great activity to perform.

The pool can also be used to practice jumping or hopping. Set out large rings or hula hoops in the water, and have your child jump from the edge of the pool through the ring. Tie aqua noodles in a knot, and have your child play leap frog and jump over the knotted noodles. Turn this activity into a race, and see who finishes first or the fastest. Use the aqua noodle as a jump rope in the pool; your child can swing the noodle over head and then jump over it with both feet. To make this activity more challenging, have your child balance and hop over the noodle jump rope with one foot.

Strengthening activities can safely be performed in the pool as well. To strengthen lower extremities, your child can perform step ups and step downs using the stairs or a step stool placed in the pool. A kickboard or aqua noodle can be used to help your child propel themselves across the pool by kicking their legs. This activity can be turned into a race with friends and family members. To work your child’s core, have them sit on the noodle and maintain their balance without assistance. Play catch using a ball while sitting on the noodle. Straddle a noodle and ride it around the pool like a horse. Turn it into a game by playing tag or red light, green light.

The pool is a great place to work on ball skills and following directions. Some popular pool sports are basketball, volleyball, and baseball. These can all be played in the pool with your child. Simple ball skills, such as throwing at a target and catching can be practiced in the pool as well. Simon says can be played to work on following directions. Practice different activities like standing on 1 leg, hopping on 1 leg, running forwards and backwards, walking sideways, skipping, and jumping forwards or jumping into the pool.

No matter how you decide to use the pool, make sure to have fun with the family!

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