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How Swimming Can Help Kids With Cerebral Palsy

This post has been updated June 6, 2018


Did you know that even children with minor disabilities need some form of exercise as a stimulus to help their bodies grow and thrive? Take our son Trace for instance. Trace has mild cerebral palsy. Sure, it hurts his legs, and sometimes he suffers with an extreme lack of mobility. However, that doesn’t stop him from doing the things he loves. One of the things Trace loves is to swim.

Aquatic exercising like swimming can be a great help to kids like Trace, especially when they add in the right pool related equipment to help, such as floating devices, boogie boards or foam floats. These devices mixed with the freedom of floating in the water can improve the overall physical and even emotional health of a child living with cerebral palsy, making all the difference to their world.

boy swimming backward

Most recreation centers offer a variety of Aquatic based programs. From Jazzercise and Aquafit to kids water polo, Aquatic Therapy is known as water-based exercises and basically can help to improve the quality of child living with cerebral palsy and their life. These types of programs are great for kids with cerebral palsy because they allow freedom without the child having to use the majority of their body weight while still being able to have some fun.

boy swimming forward

Swimming is an excellent source of exercise for a child with Cerebral Palsy. It helps with movement as muscles can become tight and swimming helps with muscle tone, respiratory ability and gives freedom of movement that kids with CP can often find difficult on land…

What Are The Benefits of Swimming and Aquatic Therapy For Kids With Cerebral Palsy?

  • Overall improvement in body strength and conditioning
  • Provides independence over the environment to which kids live
  • Improves the body and its health in a stress-free environment
  • Increase in self-confidence
  • Helps to improve muscle control
  • Improved heart health and lung capacity for breathing
  • Relief of pain in the body and joints that are affected daily
  • Reducing injuries during other exercises such as running, walking, jumping and playing
  • Increasing endurance and flexibility during growth spurts
  • Helps to keep body circulation moving with early prevention of blood clots

boy in pool with floats

There are also many emotional benefits to swimming. I know that when I take my son swimming, his overall mood improves. He isn’t so irritable or agitated, bored or out of sorts. Swimming instantly perks him up and helps to improve his overall feelings. The emotional benefits include:

  • Increase in quality of life providing the ability for movement
  • Rise in sensory connection to the body while remaining free-floating
  • Having fun and relaxation while exercising
  • Movement without restrictions

So whether you enter your child into Aquatic classes or straight swimming lessons. The benefits of swimming for a child with cerebral palsy go far beyond just floating in the water. Check out your local pools and rec centers for more information.


Disclosure: I am not a doctor, always consult with a physician before engaging in any type of physical exercise. 

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