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Open AccessArticle

Influence of Aquatic Therapy in Children and Youth with Cerebral Palsy: A Qualitative Case Study in a Special Education School

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Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, CEU-San Pablo University, 28003 Madrid, Spain
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Research and Science Committee of Worldwide Aquatic Bodywork Association (WABA), 6802 Monteceneri, Switzerland
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Faculty of Physical Therapy and Nursing, Universidad de Castilla La Mancha, 45071 Toledo, Spain
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PedPT Research Lab, Grupo de Investigación de Fisioterapia en Toledo (GIFTO), 45071 Toledo, Spain
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Riverside Care and Support Vaughan House, Guilford GU1 4HD, UK
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CCEE Nª Sra del Prado APACE Talavera, 45600 Toledo, Spain
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Escuela De Actividades En La Naturaleza (ECUNATUR), 45600 Toledo, Spain
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Department of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Rehabilitation and Physical Medicine, Rey Juan Carlos University, Alcorcón, 28922 Madrid, Spain
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Research Group of Humanities and Qualitative Research in Health Science, Rey Juan Carlos University (Hum&QRinHS), Alcorcón, 28922 Madrid, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(10), 3690; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17103690
Received: 30 April 2020 / Revised: 16 May 2020 / Accepted: 20 May 2020 / Published: 23 May 2020
Cerebral palsy results in the progressive loss of motor functions, with a negative impact on daily activities and participation. Despite the well described benefits of aquatic therapy in children, little is known about the effects of the same in school settings. This study aimed to describe the experience of children and youth with cerebral palsy participating in an aquatic therapy program within a special education school considering their educational and therapeutic perspectives. A qualitative descriptive case study with embedded units was developed, comprising 27 participants. This study employed purposeful sampling to include children and youth with cerebral palsy from the Asociación Ayuda a la Paralisis Cerebral (APACE) special education school, together with their parents, the special education teachers, and health care professionals. Data were collected via non-participant observation, semi-structured and informal interviews, focus groups, and researcher field notes. A thematic analysis was conducted, revealing the following themes: (a) the connection with the environment; (b) postural improvements and mobility; (c) the opportunity to perform tasks; (d) learning and transfer. A motivating environment leads to physical, cognitive and social benefits, both at school and in the home. Aquatic therapy was viewed as a means for learning and participation. These findings may enhance understanding regarding the potential benefits of implementing multidisciplinary aquatic therapy programs in specialist school settings. View Full-Text
Keywords: cerebral palsy; special education; physical therapy modalities; qualitative research cerebral palsy; special education; physical therapy modalities; qualitative research
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MDPI and ACS Style

Muñoz-Blanco, E.; Merino-Andrés, J.; Aguilar-Soto, B.; García, Y.C.; Puente-Villalba, M.; Pérez-Corrales, J.; Güeita-Rodríguez, J. Influence of Aquatic Therapy in Children and Youth with Cerebral Palsy: A Qualitative Case Study in a Special Education School. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 3690.

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