Monday, 22 April 2013

Beginning of Swimming Lessons for Children

It is important to encourage any form of exercise at an early age, particularly if your child has limited spontaneous movement. “Babyswim” classes are an excellent way to introduce the baby to the water. The child can begin to attend swimming lessons as early as 6 months of age. These classes will give your child an early opportunity to begin exercising and strengthening their muscles (especially their hip muscles). Classes can also give you and your child an opportunity to socialist and form support networks with children of a similar age, enabling ‘play dates’.

Local pools generally have their own swim schools that cater from babies to adults. Small classes of up to 4 children are often available. The Center for Cerebral Palsy physiotherapists have developed a manual to assist swimming teachers in providing optimal swimming opportunities for children with cerebral palsy.

Physiotherapist can help you choose the most appropriate environment for your child to learn to swim.

Swimming Lessons for Children

Finding the ‘right’ pool for your needs

It is important to choose the right pool for your child’s needs. The facilities provided at community pools vary. It may be advisable to check with your local pool to ensure they can best meet your family’s needs. There are many factors to consider when selecting a pool. Water temperature Hydrotherapy pools are generally 33- 34 degrees. Some indoor pools are 30 degrees. Warm water has a relaxing effect and can help decrease muscle tone. Cold water can increase muscle tone. Water kept at a constant temperature of 35 degrees is most suitable for a child with plasticity. A pool kept at about 33 degrees is suitable for a child with low muscle tone

If your child has epilepsy, please discuss the most appropriate pool environment with your paediatrician.

  • How will you and your child enter the pool: - stairs /ramp / side of pool / hoist?
  • Change rooms
  • Facilities available
  • A large change table
  • Do you need to ask the centre to ensure one is available for your use?
  • Noise level / echo -This could make your child tense or anxious and result in an increase in their tone.
Hydrotherapy is a water- based physiotherapy program.

Hydrotherapy programs are used by physiotherapists to:-

*   increase gross motor co- ordination
*   maintain or increase range of movement and flexibility
*   increase muscle strength
*   improve balance and posture
*   improve fitness and endurance
*   promote breathing control
*   promote water safety and awareness
*   develop basic swimming skills
*   reduce muscle spasm and encourage relaxation and enjoyment
*   encourage normal movement patterns.

A variety of swim rings, arm ‘floaties’, pool noodles and toys are incorporated into the hydrotherapy session to promote independence and freedom of movement in the water.

The children enjoy activities in the pool including acceptance of the water and buoyancy, bubble blowing and protection of the airway, kicking, splashing, floating, singing and playing.

The children’s skills are progressed with the aim to complete competencies required for swimming lessons.


The Halliwick Method is a specific swimming program used by physiotherapists. It is based on the scientific principles of body mechanics and the properties of water, aiming to teach people with special needs to become as safe and independent as possible in the water. The philosophy of the program is that the child is happy in the water and the emphasis is on the child’s ability, not disability.

Movement in water allows people with disabilities freedom from the constraints that they endure on dry land. No matter how severe the physical disability they can learn movement in the water.

The program consists of 10 specific progressive stages that are achieved without the use of floatation devices. Waterproof swimming pants are required to wear either awaterproof nappy or Eenee Swimmers if they are incontinent. Eenee swimmers have a stretchy waterproof inner sling for containing incontinence.

No comments:

Post a Comment