September 2018: Aquatics & Cerebral Palsy



Content courtesy of the National Swimming Pool Foundation


There are certain congenital disorders which – though they do not worsen – can potentially create new problems each and every day. Cerebral palsy is such a disorder. As children with CP mature, they gain functional skills and explore new abilities, just like their typically-developing peers. But as their bodies grow, their weight increases and there comes a time when this increased weight can create a new difficulty with operating under gravity’s sway. This is one of the reasons why the pool can become such a blessing. In water, gravity continues to operate exactly as it does on land. However, gravity is offset by another force of nature, buoyancy.

As Archimedes discovered (some say while in his bathtub!), buoyancy operates as a kind of anti-gravity, lifting-up while gravity pulls down. When patients with CP enter the pool, in some ways they are reclaiming a body which they once knew, a lighter body, a more mobile, more free body. The pool provides the remedy to gravity required for patients to stretch, weight-bear and move with more freedom. It also provides a safe place for patients to expand their existing limits and try new things without fear of the consequences. 


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