Water Therapy & Special Children

Diamond Physical Therapy Offers Pediatric Aquatic Physical Therapy and Adapted Swimming Instruction for Children Who Have Special Needs

Laura Diamond and Megan Gray Cohen have been working with children in the water a combined total of over 65 years. As a water safety instructor and a physical therapist, they are able to integrate therapeutic techniques, water safety and adapted swimming instruction.

Water can be used both recreationally and therapeutically with amazing results! It is a magical place for the children. Often children with special needs are limited on land. In the water they are freer to stand, walk and swim. In time, they are even sometimes able to out-perform or equal their peers and siblings in the water.

Laura and Megan evaluate kids on land first, in a private setting. They meet with parents and children, obtain a medical history, performs a physical exam, and begin to build a relationship with the children. Previous exposure to water and skill level in the water are discussed. Additional sessions and evaluations take place in the water.

The environment is important for recovery and learning. Laura and Megan use a 90-degree therapeutic pool and a children’s play pool at the Beede Center in Concord. Important as that is, they always recommends that children continue to receive land-based services to practice movements that they are developing in the water.

Problems that can be helped by water therapy are hypotonia (low tone), hypertonia (stiffness), weakness, range of motion limitations, respiratory problems, sensory-perceptual difficulties and balance problems. Laura and Megan have worked with children who have spina bifida, cerebral palsy, severe mental retardation, autism, spinal muscular atrophy, muscular dystrophy, postoperative issues, head injuries, deafness, blindness, prematurity, and severe disabilities.

Safety is also critical to success. Laura and Megan incorporate seven essential safety skills that include rhythmic breathing, supine float, supine recovery, prone float, prone recovery, rolling, and changing directions. Teaching these safety skills also allows Laura and Megan to work on therapeutic goals and address the problems mentioned above.

Laura says “It has been incredibly rewarding to work with children with severe disabilities over the years who have become safe and proficient swimmers and are now able to use the water as a form of lifelong exercise and recreation. Kids get out of their wheelchairs and do things that they never dreamed were possible. Their lives are transformed!”

“Aqua therapy has been a total success for our daughter. Laura is outstanding in not only her ability to maximize the benefits of aqua therapy, but in the ability to make the children feel as if it is fun, not work! In all of the therapies Kendall has received, by far, aqua therapy is one of the most beneficial for her body and mind! I would recommend Laura to all moms who are looking for the ultimate experience for their children with disabilities!”

– Kim, Mother, Stow MA