Halliwick Water Specific Therapy Certification
by Genevieve Afan PT, DPT, Cert DN & Bobbi Michels PT, DPT, PAq
AzOPT Buckeye Aquatic Therapists
Halliwick, or Water Specific Therapy, was originally developed in 1950 as a way to teach people with disabilities how to swim and be independent in the water. This method uses a 10-point program that is made up of 3 learning stages:
- Mental adjustment – responding to a variety of environments/situations
- Balance control – maintaining or changing position in a controlled manner
- Movement – creating a skilled activity efficiently
In the pool, these stages are combined with the properties of water to assist our patients with learning (or re-learning) and mastering specific motor skills. These skills can translate to activities needed for daily living on land. For example, if someone is having a hard time sitting up on their own, the therapist can use this method in the water to help them learn how to move their body in a controlled manner. This will activate the sensory and motor systems of the body needed for balance to successfully maintain a seated position.
As a patient is learning a skill, the therapist is trained to identify where the individual is in their learning process. A gradual decrease in the amount of hands-on assistance provided will help guide the person to become independent with the learned skill. Eventually, as the patient masters these skills in the water, they can then use the same principles on land to improve their day-to-day activities and general quality of life.
This method can be used to assist people of all ages with conditions affecting bones, joints, muscles, and the brain/nervous system. The Halliwick method is a fun and interactive way to progress towards therapeutic goals and an overall better life!
Currently, Genevieve and Bobbi are Certified in the Halliwick/Water Specific Therapy (WST) method. If you are interested in scheduling an aquatic therapy evaluation, please contact our Buckeye office at 623-242-6908.