Aquatic Therapy for Children with AADC Deficiency

Emily Malcolm, PhD avatar

by Emily Malcolm, PhD |

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Children with aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) deficiency generally have muscle weakness, uncontrollable movements, and developmental delays. Physiotherapy can help patients with AADC deficiency improve strength, coordination, balance, and posture. One type of physiotherapy that may be particularly beneficial is aquatic therapy.

What is aquatic therapy?

Aquatic therapy is physiotherapy that takes place in the water. Just like physiotherapy on land, the goal is to increase patients’ strength, coordination, and range of motion, with the added benefit of the support of water. With aquatic therapy, there is less risk of patients falling and hurting themselves, so practicing movements such as walking and sitting up can be less frightening.

How do I prepare my child for an aquatic therapy session?

Talk with your child’s physiotherapist to get recommendations on what to bring to each session. Just as with regular physiotherapy sessions, you should bring your child’s medical history and your insurance information if the therapy will be covered by insurance.

Depending on the patient’s needs, the physiotherapist may ask you to get in the pool with your child to provide reassurance during the session.

Dress your child in comfortable clothing and bring swimwear and a change of clothes. It may also be a good idea to bring your child’s favorite pool or bath toy for initial sessions.

During the session, your child may be asked to play games to practice sitting up and moving. The physiotherapist may also give “homework” exercises for you to do in your own time to further help your child.

At subsequent appointments, you’ll review with the physiotherapist what your child has been able to do since the last session, any improvements or changes, and anything they didn’t enjoy or had trouble doing.

How can I find an aquatic therapy center?

Your physiotherapist should be able to recommend a certified aquatic therapy center near you. Some physiotherapists are also certified in aquatic therapy themselves.


Last updated: Feb. 10, 2020


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