Aquatic Therapy for Angelman Syndrome

Emily Malcolm, PhD avatar

by Emily Malcolm, PhD |

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Children with Angelman syndrome usually have muscle weakness, uncontrollable movements, and developmental delays. Physiotherapy can help patients with Angelman syndrome improve strength, coordination, balance, and posture. One type of physiotherapy that may be particularly beneficial for children with Angelman syndrome is aquatic therapy.

What is aquatic therapy?

Aquatic therapy is physiotherapy that takes place in the water. Just like normal physiotherapy the aim of aquatic therapy is to increase patients’ strength, coordination, and range of motion. But an extra benefit with aquatic therapy is that patients may feel more comfortable because there is less risk of falling and hurting themselves.

Many patients with Angelman syndrome show a preference for water-based activities, so aquatic therapy can be a good way to engage their senses.

How do I prepare my child for an aquatic therapy session?

Talk with your child’s physiotherapist about what to bring to each aquatic therapy session. As with regular physiotherapy, you should bring your child’s medical history and your insurance information if the therapy is covered by insurance.

Dress your child in comfortable clothing and bring swimwear and a change of clothes. It also may be a good idea to bring your child’s favorite pool or bath toys to the first few sessions. Depending on your child’s needs and preference, the therapist may ask you to get in the pool, too, so be sure you are prepared for that.

During the session, the therapist may play games with your child to help them practice sitting up and moving.

The therapist also may give “homework” exercises for you to do with your child in your own time if you have access to a pool.

At subsequent appointments, the therapist will review what your child has been able to do since the last session, any improvements or changes, and anything they had trouble with or didn’t enjoy.

How can I find an aquatic therapy center?

Physiotherapists should be able to help you find a certified aquatic therapy center near you. They also may be able to offer the service themselves.


Last updated: Feb. 13, 2020


Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.