Becker & Lynch (2018) Case Report Aquatic Therapy and End-Stage Dementia

Introduction to Aquatic Therapy in Dementia Care

Aquatic therapy emerges as a promising intervention for individuals with end-stage dementia, offering a novel approach to enhancing their quality of life. This therapeutic modality utilizes the unique properties of water to facilitate physical and cognitive improvements in a supportive and adaptable environment.

Case Study Overview

The document highlights a significant case where aquatic therapy was applied to a 54-year-old woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Initially presenting with severe physical and cognitive limitations, the patient embarked on a 19-week aquatic therapy program, which led to remarkable outcomes.

Therapeutic Outcomes

Post-therapy, the patient demonstrated substantial improvements in various domains. Notably, there was a significant enhancement in her mobility, transitioning from wheelchair dependence to the ability to tread water for extended periods. Furthermore, her communication skills, which were previously non-existent, showed marked improvement, indicating the multifaceted benefits of aquatic therapy.

Implications for Practice

The case underscores the potential of aquatic therapy as an effective intervention for dementia patients, particularly those in advanced stages. It suggests the need for further research to explore the scope and scalability of such therapeutic interventions in dementia care.


Aquatic therapy holds promise as a therapeutic intervention for enhancing the quality of life of individuals with end-stage dementia. The documented case provides a compelling narrative of the therapy’s impact, advocating for broader research and application in clinical settings.

Keyphrase: Aquatic therapy in a dementia patient’s case study

Keywords: aquatic therapy, dementia, Alzheimer’s, mobility, communication

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Abstract: A 54-year old female, retired due to progressive cognitive decline, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s dementia. Conventional medication therapy for dementia had proven futile. Initial evaluation revealed a non-verbal female seated in a wheelchair, dependent on 2-person assist for all transfers and activities of daily living (ADLs.) She had been either non-responsive or actively resistive for both ADLs and transfers in the 6 months prior to assessment. Following a total of 17 one hour therapy sessions over 19 weeks in a warm water therapy pool, she achieved ability to tread water for 15 minutes, transfers improved to moderate to-maximum assist from seated, ambulation improved to 1000’ with minimum-to-moderate assist of 2 persons. Communication increased to appropriate “yes,” “no,” and “OK” appropriate responses, occasional “thank you” and “very nice.”  The authors propose that her clinical progress may be related to her aquatic therapy intervention. Key Words: Aquatic therapy, Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia, Hydrotherapy,