A Systematic Review of the Effects of Aquatic Therapy on Motor Functions in Children with Cerebral Palsy
Background. Cerebral palsy (CP) is one of the most common childhood disorders. Different treatment strategies are used to improve quality of life.
Aim. To systematically review the recent articles and investigate the effects of aquatic therapy on motor functions in children with cerebral palsy.
Methods. Studies between 2012–2022 were selected investigating the effects of aquatic therapy on motor functions in CP children. The databases Google Scholar, PubMed and PEDRO were used. Selection criteria included diagnosis as CP, use of aquatic intervention, participants aged until 18 years, use of validated outcome measure, published in English, and study design as a randomized control trial/pilot study/case study.
Results. Out of 11 studies selected for this review, 6 of them were randomized control trials, 2 were quasi experimental studies, 2 were comparative studies and one was case series. Aquatic exercises, Halliwick concept, Watsu and water immersion therapy, swimming exercises were used as aquatic interventions in the studies. Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM) was the most commonly used tool for recording motor functions. About 64% of studies showed that aquatic interventions can provide significantly beneficial effects on motor functions of children with CP when compared to conventional therapy or no intervention.
Conclusions. Aquatic therapy provides beneficial effects on motor functions in children with cerebral palsy.
Keywords: cerebral palsy, aquatic therapy, aquatic exercises, swimming program, motor functions.
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