Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Thomas Mohr


Hydrotherapy; Spinal Cord Injuries -- rehabilitation; Spinal Cord Injuries -- therapy


Water provides a new challenge in the rehabilitation of those with spinal cord injuries. An aquatics program specific to the individual can give invaluable physical, psychological, and therapeutic effects. The inherent properties of water, such as its buoyancy, turbulence, and resistance, give the spinal cord injured person a new freedom of movement and an ideal environment for increasing confidence and learning skills which can be carried over to daily activities.

Spinal cord injury aquatics programs in the past have proved successful in several aspects. Goals which are attainable through an aquatics program include increasing respiratory function, range of motion, and muscle strength and improving coordination and mobility while at the same time decreasing spasticity and pain. Social benefits, such as a sense of achievement, self-respect, and self-confidence arise from the experience as the water provides the spinal cord patient with a higher functioning level which is physically and economically beneficial to the individual and ultimately to society.

A comprehensive aquatics program for spinal cord injured patients is necessary for outlining components which will enable the physical therapist to design a treatment program which will provide for the optimal independence of the patient. This program can then be tailored to the individual to meet the specific functional needs and goals of the patient.