Aquatic Therapy for Traumatic Brain Injuries

By: Megan Brodsky

aquatic therapy

Last week we held our annual Mermaid Event Fundraiser created in honor of Mary McKillop, a friend of Kacey’s who swam together at the Seattle Public Swimming Pools. Mary passed away in 2010, but her generous and giving spirit never left. The Mary ‘Mermaid’ McKillop Fund was created and the Mermaid Fundraiser as well. The Fundraiser helps provide more people with access to aquatic therapy, which has shown many benefits for brain injury rehabilitation.

What is aquatic therapy?

Similar to physical therapy done on land, individuals with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and other neurological injuries, diseases, and disorders who participate in aquatic therapy have the ability to exercise in water. The reason aquatic therapy is so useful for people with TBIs and other neurological injuries, diseases, and disorders is because many are unable to exercise on land due to loss of balance or fear of falling, but the buoyancy of water allows them to do so comfortably. Aquatic therapy patients are relieved of most of their body weight when exercising in water, which helps their ability to complete exercises they would otherwise could not do on land.

What are the benefits of aquatic therapy?

One specific benefit of aquatic therapy is the hydrostatic pressure that exists in water. Hydrostatic pressure is the force applied on the body when in water by fluid molecules. Essentially, this makes it so the patient can get the benefits of hydrostatic pressure just by going in the water, with no exercise required. Hydrostatic pressure reduces pain and increases range of motion. It also helps blood circulation throughout the body.

Being in the water gives a feeling similar to compression socks for individuals going through rehabilitation. This provides equal pressure throughout the body and also works the respiratory system harder. This allows the muscles engaged in the respiratory system to tone up without strenuous activity.

Along with the physical benefits of aquatic therapy, it has also shown helping psychosocial areas. Aquatic therapy helps reduce stress and anxiety, increase concentration abilities, strengthen one’s confidence, enhance one’s well-being, and help find a calm center and relax.


aquatic therapy 2

Aquatic therapy has shown multiple benefits for individuals with traumatic brain injuries and other neurological injuries, diseases, and disorders from physical to emotional areas. Aquatic therapy is a unique experience in that the patient has the ability to exercise without the strain caused by physical therapy on land. Not only does it help patients improve their range of motion but also gives them a feeling of confidence they may have lost.

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