Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Peggy Mohr


Hydrotherapy; Child; Infant


Aquatic therapy continues to grow as an acceptable and often times preferable means of achieving therapeutic goals across a variety of patient populations: pediatric to geriatric, orthopedic to neurologic. The unique properties of water allow people to exercise and to recover in a safe and relaxing environment that promotes similar goals to those on land. However, land exercises can not simply be performed in water due to the water's unique properties. Similarly, exercises for adults do not work as effectively for children. Many physical therapy programs across the nation provide only minimal instruction on aquatic or pediatric therapy as a part of the core curriculum.

The purpose of this literature review and the accompanying manual are to provide a review of the unique characteristics of water and to introduce pediatric aquatic activities to physical therapy professionals and students. The review of literature focuses on the physical properties of water, thermal considerations, advantages of aquatic therapy, and precautions. The manual includes a variety of recreational and therapeutic activities to be utilized by a physical therapist in a therapeutic pool. The activities are categorized based upon their primary therapeutic objective.

The result of this project is an overview of aquatic therapy and the properties of water. In addition, the beginning aquatic physical therapist and physical therapy student are provided with ideas to facilitate their own creativity in designing individual pediatric aquatic therapy treatment plans.