The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of an aquatic intervention on the gross motor function and aquatic skills of children with cerebral palsy (CP). Twenty-nine children with CP, aged 5 to 14, were recruited. Fourteen children completed an aquatic intervention (EG), and 13 children served as controls (CG). Two participants dropped out due to events (illness) unrelated to the intervention. The aquatic intervention lasted 6 weeks (2 sessions per week at 55 minutes per session) with a follow-up period of 3 weeks. The outcome measures were the Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM) for motor function and the Water Orientation Test Alyn 2 (WOTA 2) for aquatic skills assessment. A significant improvement was observed in the secondary assessment of GMFM and WOTA 2. In contrast to the aquatic skills improvement, the GMFM change was not maintained at follow-up. Our results indicate that children with CP can improve gross motor function on dry land and aquatic skills with a 6-week water intervention. The intervention period was too short for sustainable improvement in dry-land motor skills after intervention (follow up),but time was sufficient to achieve sustainable improvements in aquatic skills.
Key words: aquatherapy, experiment, follow up, pediatrics