"There's many ways to swim" a lecture on participation for the APA
Shayna presented to the APA on the many ways to support participation in swimming across the lifespan.
Aquatic and land physiotherapy for babies, children & young people
We have access to 2 wonderful private swimming pools in Melbourne.
They are indoors and heated to at least 32 degrees C year round.
They both win awards for excellent water quality, and use modern systems that are better for skin, eyes and hair. More info here.
We focus on helping your child participate in their day to day functional activities:
moving around, getting dressed, sitting steady at their school desk, playing at lunchtime,
joining in sport and going along for family walks and bike rides.
aquatic physiotherapy sessions are aimed at helping your child achieve their everyday functional activities
we use a play based approach
we combine paediatric and aquatic physiotherapy, contemporary Neuro Developmental Treatment (Bobath/NDT) and swimming teaching to develop novel treatment strategies to work towards your child's goals.
we reinforce swim safer behaviours every session eg. wait with your parent before getting into the water
we practise swim safer skills every session (eg. floating, holding breath)
we believe helping children to become safer around water is an important part of an Australian childhood
we often use practise of specific water safety skills to work towards a child's functional land goals, by targeting areas a child needs assistance with. eg. range of movement, trunk control, oromotor control, developing rolling, sit to stand, balance, sensory integration especially of vestibular, visual and proprioceptive inputs.
we promote your child developing confidence in their ability to move. For some children, this is the first environment where they have been able to independently move around. And they love it!
we support your child's whole development. We use strategies recommended by your therapy team to promote communication, social, play, fine motor problem solving and self care skills.
we can have sessions sharing the pool with other children having swimming lessons. This is great for developing social, communication and play skills, and in transitioning into swimming lessons
we can help with ideas for play in the bath and pool to practise skills
we can work towards learning to swim. Swimming is an important exercise and leisure activity for many of the children we work with. They may not all look like our Olympic swimmers, but they can learn to swim! See pathways to swimming for more information
We support your child's whole development
by coordinating with your therapy and education team
to promote communication, social, play, fine motor, problem solving and self care skills in our sessions
How does it work?
We first do an initial physiotherapy assessment home visit to understand your child's goals, history, movement patterns, and to develop a treatment plan together with you.
We also complete a risk screen so we can make a plan to manage any health risks during our session.
Then we are ready for our aquatic block!
We work in blocks of goal directed 1:1 physiotherapy towards your goals and individual learning needs
We review your goals each block, including a land based reassessment.
Aquatic physio services we offer
individual one - on - one aquatic physiotherapy blocks during school terms
physiotherapy intensives where we see your child daily for up to 5 days
helping parents with ideas for bath and swimming play
the Kickstart swimming program for children with specific learning needs
one- on- one inclusion support during your child's swimming lesson
What about function on land?
We review your progress on land at least once each block.
For many children it's appropriate to incorporate some poolside work into your aquatic physio sessions if needed for transfer of skills.
Many children will also see us for land physiotherapy
weekly, fortnightly or monthly during their aquatic physio block
for intensives over school holidays (bike riding, kayaking, ball sports, mobility, playground skills, getting ready to join a community team)
for assistive technology trials and training
for support to transition and be included at childcare, kinder or school
We combine paediatric physiotherapy, aquatic physiotherapy,
Neuro Developmental Treatment (NDT/ Bobath) and swimming teaching
to develop unique treatment strategies to help your child achieve their goals
What can we help your child with?
The treatment goals we negotiate with you are around helping your child achieve day to day functional activities that are important to your child and your family. In working towards your child's goals, we can help with:
developing mobility and gross motor skills: eg. walking, standing, rolling, sit to stand, jumping, hopping, running, sports skills. Children may be learning to move for the first time, or they may be returning to function/ sport after an injury or illness.
cardiovascular fitness: to improve endurance, weight management, diabetes management, and for cardiopulmonary health. It’s not all about swimming- we can also use variations on walking, upper limb exercises and kicking on the pool edge.
coordination: from working out how to squirt mum with a toy, to ball skills, to diving underwater to pick up a toy, to learning the complicated task of swimming
motor planning and problem solving: from working out how to shift your weight to the side so you can reach for a toy, to working out how to negotiate an obstacle course and climbing frames under and over the water
posture and balance: from learning to prop up on your belly, to sitting, standing, walking and hopping. The water slows everything down, so we have more time to respond with balance reactions and keep ourselves upright.
strength and power: muscle conditioning alongside neuromotor control and helpful movement patterns
range of movement/ flexibility: of joints and muscles eg. to maintain range of movement in rheumatoid arthritis, after surgery, or in managing muscle spasticity in children with cerebral palsy
oro motor skills: (eg closing mouth, holding breath, blowing bubbles)
whole development: communication, social, play, fine motor, problem solving, motor planning, self care and gross motor skills
sensory processing is different in the water environment than it is on land. This can be used to help us with sensory integration especially of vestibular, visual and proprioceptive (sense of body awareness) inputs, through our wide range of fun and motivating activities in the water.
social interaction is a common goal for children during aquatic sessions because it's such a motivating environment. We have the luxury of sessions where we have the whole pool to ourselves for children who need that quiet environment, or we can choose sessions were we share the pool with swmming lessons. We can participate in parts of swimming lessons with a child's peers.
self efficacy: exercise has positive effects for mental health. We have a strong focus on enjoyment in our sessions, and aim to develop self esteem in a fun and motivating environment. Children learn the intrinsic reward of working towards their goals and feeling proud of themselves when they achieve it. We are also skilled at using a range of communication and relaxation strategies to help children who experience anxiety.
learn to swim/ return to swimming: we are happy to help children with: learning to swim; returning to swim after a long break, injury or illness; or developing a modified swimming technique. This can be beneficial for development of water safety skills, muscle conditioning, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, self esteem, and of course, enjoyment!