E. Meyer(2020) Water Specific Therapy Halliwick (WSTH): Interest of water therapy for cerebral palsy children

Introduction to Halliwick Method

The Halliwick method, established by J. McMillan in England in 1949, was initially designed for young girls with cerebral palsy (CP) at the Halliwick swimming school. This method leverages the unique physical properties of water, incorporating a Ten-Point Program (TPP) aimed at teaching swimming skills. The Water Specific Therapy Halliwick (WSTH) extends this approach, serving as a powerful learning tool within the aquatic environment to facilitate movement management and daily life activities on land.

Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic therapy, particularly for individuals with CP, offers numerous advantages due to water’s physical properties. It affects various bodily systems, including the central nervous system, respiratory, cardiovascular, renal, digestive, and musculoskeletal systems. The buoyancy of water allows for easier movements, reduced joint stress, and altered muscle tone, providing a unique therapeutic environment that differs significantly from land-based activities.

Halliwick and WSTH Approach

The Halliwick concept focuses on teaching aquatic independence to those with special needs, emphasizing the different attributes of the aquatic environment. The TPP of Halliwick outlines a sequential motor learning process leading to functional swimming, primarily through mastering various rotational movements. In contrast, WSTH utilizes these principles to enhance motor skills on land, aligning with the child’s normal motor development, motor evolution levels, and international classifications of functioning and disability.

Scientific Evidence and Studies

Several studies have validated the effectiveness of the Halliwick method and WSTH in improving motor skills in children with CP. Comparative research between WSTH and conventional aquatic therapy has demonstrated significant improvements in areas such as spasticity reduction, joint amplitude, active trunk recovery, and head control, showcasing the superior outcomes achieved with the WSTH approach, likely due to its focus on rotational points.


The Halliwick method and WSTH have been proven to be highly effective in enhancing motor skills for children with CP. The unique emphasis on rotational movements within the aquatic environment, as outlined in the TPP, offers significant advantages over traditional aquatic therapy, contributing to better management of CP symptoms and improved daily functionality.

Keywords: Halliwick method, cerebral palsy, water therapy, motor skills, daily functionality, rotational movements.

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