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Archive > Year 2013, Number 2

Benefits of swimming for children with cerebral palsy: a pilot study


Declerck Marlies


The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of a swimming program on body function, activity and Quality of Life (QOL), in children diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Seven children (female/male: 4/3; Median 10.2 years old; Gross Motor Function Classification Scale I to III) participated in a 6-week swimming intervention using a case series design. Outcome measures were, for body function level: handgrip strength; for activity level: unimanual speed performance, walking capacity, gross motor function and adjustment and function in the water; and QOL. There was no drop-out during the intervention. Mental adjustment in the water and swimming skills improved by 29% (p < 0.05) after the intervention. This effect remained at follow-up (p < 0.05). Subdimension D (standing) of the Gross Motor Function Measurement-88 improved significantly (3%). All other activity measurements showed trends toward improvement. QOL improved in five out of seven subdimensions of one questionnaire. To conclude, this pilot study including a small number of participants showed improvements in adjustment and function in the water and positive trends for activity level and QOL after a 6-week swimming program. Future research on a larger population could be worthwhile.


Swimming, aquatic therapy, motor skills

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