Frequently Asked Questions

What is Adaptive Swim Lesson?

Adaptive swim lessons use techniques that place emphasis on swimming skills modified or adapted to accommodate individual abilities, needs, and goals, regardless of age. Lessons are created for, but not limited to, those with anxiety, physical, sensory, communication or behavior challenges.  

Lessons may include: 
  • pool entry and exit
  • basic water safety skills
  • independent swimming skills
  • adaptive stroke techniques
  • balance and core strength.

What is Aquatic Exercise?

Aquatic exercise is a low-impact activity that takes the pressure off your bones, joints and muscles. Water offers natural resistance, which helps strengthen your muscles. You can even do aquatic exercise if you don't know how to swim.

What is Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy refers to water-based treatments or exercises for therapeutic purposes.  The use of water and specifically designed activity by qualified personnel aids in the restoration, extension, maintenance and quality of function for persons with acute, transient, or chronic disabilities, syndromes or diseases.

Who should consider adaptive swim lessons, aquatic exercises or aquatic therapy?

Infants, toddlers, children, teens, adults or seniors who have congenital or acquired physical/sensory/developmental/neurological issues or other health challenges.

Why should I choose adaptive swim lessons, aquatic exercises or aquatic therapy for me/my child/my dependent?

People with health challenges often feel trapped in a cycle of pain, depression, and stress which leads to the belief that exercise and fitness is impossible for them.  Aquatic therapy can break this cycle because of the unique properties of water.

If you experience pain:
  • Exercises are easier and less painful because the forces on weight-bearing joints are reduced.
  • The warmth of the water helps reduce pain by relaxing tight or spastic muscles and increases blood flow.
If you have muscle weakness, spasms or cerebral palsy:
  • The water resistance helps strengthen muscles and improve cardiovascular performance.
  • The water's buoyancy reduces joint loading and impact, and decreases the negative influences of poor balance and poor postural control.
  • Many patients are able to move freely in a way they are not able to on land.  Body weight is reduced in the water allowing the patient more freedom of movement and improved muscle relaxation with reduced exhaustion.
If you have sensory integration difficulties:
  • Water mutes sounds and provides a break to those with auditory sensitivities.
  • Learning some swim strokes, like front and back crawl, helps improve bilateral coordination because they involve crossing the mid-line and coordinating movement on both sides of the body.
  • Gradually learning swim stroke patterns helps those with motor planning difficulties.
  • The temperature and consistent pressure of the water against the skin can serve as a source of constant, easily discernible, and calming sensation.
If you get land-based therapy or exercises:
  • Water-based therapy provides a change in routine and introduction of new program that complements land-based therapy.
If you want improved well-being, aquatic exercises:
  • Helps manage stress and anxiety
  • Reduces depression
  • Increases ability to concentrate
  • Develops self-esteem 
What does individualized program mean?
  • An individualized program means that the various strategies that used by Nurturing Water Therapies will be customized based on your specific needs.  Your instructor will also make adjustments based on your progress.  Through a variety of targeted exercises and specialized methods, aquatic therapy vastly improves pain sensitivity, muscle and bone strength, and overall flexibility and range of motions.
Why teach my child with special needs how to swim?
  • Swimming is fun!  Some of our clients discover their love for the water such that the most difficult part of the lesson was how to end it.
  • Knowing how to swim is important.  Unfortunately, accidental drowning is among the leading causes of death of children typical or with special needs[1][2].
What are the different diagnoses that your team has worked with before?

These are just some examples:
  • Apraxia
  • Autism
  • Brain surgery
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA, Stroke)
  • Chromosomal Abnormalities
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Down Syndrome
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gross Motor Delay
  • Hodgkin's Lymphoma
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Motor planning
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD-NOS)
  • Premature birth complications
  • Seizure Disorders
  • Sensory Integration Dysfunction
  • Sensory Processing Disorder
  • Serotonin Syndrome
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
What are the different types of water therapy?

  • Ai Chi
Drawing inspiration from Tai Chi, Ai Chi is a combination of deep breathing and slow broad movements of the arms, legs, and torso.  Ai Chi can help patients manage pain, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, anxiety, and many other physical and mental ailments.
  • Ai Chi Ne
"Ne" is the Japanese word for "two".  Ai Chi Ne uses the same moves as Ai Chi but holding/touching one another.  This technique is used for balance, mobility and range of motion deficits (e.g. CP, MS, CVA/Stroke, and neurological and motor skill deficits).
  • AquaStretch (TM)
The facilitator progresses a client through a series of starting positions and hand grips while encouraging movement.  By then applying a basic procedure to client specific areas of tightness or pain, the facilitator works with the client to restore motion.
  • BackHab
BackHab is an aquatic walking program applicable to all skill levels using various strides and stretches to accomplish a variety of benefits including gait re-training, balance, coordination, trunk stability, and muscular endurance and strength. It is excellent for various orthopedic and chronic conditions.
  • Bad Ragaz
The patient is led through a series of movements while being supported horizontally in the water with the help of aquatic devices.  It is a method of muscle re-education utilizing specific patterns of resistance, endurance, elongation, relaxation, range of motion, and tonal reduction.
  • Burdenko
Water and land based therapy that starts the patient in the water working on balance and postural alignment.  Gradually, exercises include flexibility, coordination, endurance, speed, and strength.  These six qualities of movement, used in this developmental sequence are the foundation of this method.
  • Feldenkrais
Aquatic Feldenkrais places emphasis on increasing self-awareness through movement.  This guided exploratory process helps reduce pain and increase the ease of movement.
  • Halliwick
Based on the adaptation of scientific and hydrodynamic principles to the behavior of the human body in water, the Halliwick Method emphasizes the goal of individual independence.  Individuals with orthopedic conditions benefits most from this technique.
  • Lyu Ki Dou
Derived from the Japanese translation of "Floating Life Energy Pathways", Lyu Ki Dou emphasizes on the transfer of vital life-giving energy by hands-on healing from the therapist to the client/patient by using the properties of water.
  • Massage
Water massage, the use of soft tissue manipulation and body mobilization techniques in water warmer than skin temperature (92-93F), is evolving as a therapeutic method.  Practitioners find that the use of massage in water is creative, innovative, and individualized, and no two practitioners have the same approach.
  • Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
PNF is an approach to therapeutic exercise which aims to enhance both active and passive range of motion and optimize motor performance and rehabilitation.  Exercises consist of spiral and diagonal patterns and must incorporate three components of motion: flexion or extension, adduction or abduction, and rotation.
  • Unpredictable Command Technique
Two or more motor movements are done simultaneously in UCT.  Improved somatic awareness and motor control can be achieved through the challenge to do a variety of constantly-changing familiar and unfamiliar activities.  UCT improves voluntary control, awareness of movement and body in space, and enhanced mental concentration.
  • Water Dance (Wassertanzen)
Water Dance is a dynamic movement therapy that includes work below the water surface with the aid of nose clips.  It is different from Watsu because of the challenge it presents for a person to surrender control of his breach to go underwater.
  • Water Pilates
Pilates exercises are adapted to the water environment.  This body conditioning program improves strength, flexibility, and range of motion, and also encourages musculoskeletal alignment.  The main tenets are resisting your own weight, controlled breathing, spine alignment, and abdominal strengthening.
  • Water Yoga
Hatha yoga poses performed in warm, waist- to chest-depth water develop strength and static balance simultaneously.  In addition, range of motion increases in coordination with diaphragmatic breathing and long exhalations.
  • Watsu
Watsu (water + shiatsu) is a cradling, one-on-one program that is experiences in a very warm (approximately 94F) pool.  The client is held in the water by the practitioner and moved using the water to massage the body.  Shiatsu (acupressure) points are stimulated along the meridiance of the body during the massage.  Watsu is used for pain reduction, increased range of motion, increased circulation, psychological problems, relaxation, and reduction of stress.  It has been used in rehabilitation programs for people with orthopedic problems or physical disabilities, for pregnant mothers, and the elderly.
  • Yogalates
Fluid Yogalates, developed by Dr. Mary Wykle, combines Iyengar Yoga, Pilates and Ai Chi.  Static poses and core stabilization exercises are transitioned with circular movements and emphasis on deep breathing to create a continual fluid program.  The objectives are increased body awareness, strength, range of motion, relaxation, and an inward focus.

[2] Center for Disease Control and Prevention.