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  • Writer's pictureShayna Gavin, Splash Principal Physiotherapist

Teaching in aquatic physiotherapy - level 1 APA

I had a great time teaching on the Level 1 Aquatic Physiotherapy course, for the Australian Physiotherapy Association this past weekend.

I regularly join colleagues to present these courses in Melbourne, and this time covered the risk management and treatment techniques sections.

The course covers the principles of water, how they affect our body systems, and how they can be used in physiotherapy; different treatment techniques, methods and exercise options that can be used in aquatic physiotherapy; and risk management.

There is a strong emphasis on clinical reasoning, and bringing all our physiotherapy skills into aquatic sessions. The need for assessment and reassessment is the same in the water as on land, to ensure that we are being effective in working towards short and long term goals, and to manage risks.

Girl smiling holding onto a pool edge with goggles on her forehead

Image description: girl smiling holding onto pool edge, with goggles on her forehead

It can be a challenging course for physios at times, as there are often no 'black and white' answers. There are often a number of potential solutions to each issue that arises, and that is where the skill and clinical reasoning of physiotherapists comes to the fore.

The level 1 course was a game changer for me in 2007. It is where I learnt to clinically reason my way through an individual's needs to come up with a range of aquatic treatment options, that I could then prioritise, trial, and assess for effectiveness. This focus on detailed clinical reasoning was furthered in the higher level aquatic physiotherapy courses I later completed, as well as other study, and remains a key theme to our work at Splash. We want to be as specific as possible in what we do, so that we can target individuals' learning needs. This has led to me developing a range of novel treatment strategies, that I have the flexibility to adapt, or discard and start afresh, with each child I see in the water.

It is great fun to see physios learning these key concepts and starting to apply new ideas to their practice, and this was a wonderfully enthusiastic group.

The next Level 1 Aquatic Physiotherapy course is scheduled for March 2020 and I can't recommend it highly enough. A team of highly skilled and experienced aquatic physios from Melbourne teach the courses, with lectures and 2 aquatic practical sessions each day.

You can search for upcoming aquatic courses here

You can see the current Guidelines for Aquatic Physiotherapy (2015) here

Shayna Gavin is a physiotherapist who is passionate about helping babies, children and young people learn functional skills so they can participate in life at home, school and in their community. Recognising that children do best in their own environments, she visits homes, schools, and leisure activities from football fields to ballet classes. She also has daily aquatic physiotherapy sessions available at two private swimming schools in Moonee Ponds and Greensborough, Melbourne. She combines principles of paediatric physiotherapy, Contemporary Neuro Developmental Treatment, motor learning, and swimming teaching to address the individual needs of each child and their family. She loves providing professional development to physiotherapists, allied health and education professionals, allied health assistants and swimming teachers.

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