There’s a Shark in Our Aqua Therapy Pool!

Just as sharks are known to use specific strategies to catch their prey, such as surprising an unsuspecting fish from below, Dylan, a pediatric patient I’ve been working with, surprised us by using specific strategies to weight shift and learn to walk.

And just like sharks can move easier in the water versus on land, Dylan can move better when he is in the water. The warmth, buoyancy and resistance provided by our state-of-the-art aquatic therapy pool allow him to have greater ease when walking in the water than on land. Not only can he move better in the water, but he also likes to swim up and scare his therapist (me), who sometimes thinks there’s a shark in the pool! 

Dylan underwent an extensive surgical procedure to reduce his muscle tone as a result of his cerebral palsy diagnosis. After surgery, he began an intense, comprehensive rehabilitation program at Emerson Hospital per his surgeon’s recommendations and protocol. He is treated at both of Emerson Hospital’s outpatient facilities in Westford and Concord by Mary Evans, a pediatric and neurologic clinical specialist, and I. Attending physical therapy almost every day of the week is no easy task for anyone, especially a 5-year-old. As his therapists, we try to be creative so that every session is fun and interesting for him.

His land therapy sessions consist of using different equipment as well as games. Pictured above, Dylan is using the Lite Gait, which helps decrease the amount of a person’s bodyweight that they have to support while walking. He loves to use the Lite Gait on both the treadmill and walking laps around the big therapy gym, waving hi to all of the patients and therapists! His aquatic therapy sessions use different flotation devices to help support him in the water, underwater platforms to step onto and walk on and, of course, rubber ducks to count and play games with!

Dylan is just one example of how a comprehensive treatment program using both land and aquatic therapy can benefit our pediatric patients. Pediatric physical therapy at Emerson Hospital offers a wide range of services, from land and aquatic therapy to brace clinics for patients who need custom orthotics. With an interdisciplinary team of experienced pediatric occupational therapists and speech and language pathologists at both our Concord and Westford locations, we’re a one-stop shop for families looking for comprehensive pediatric care. For more information about our programs, please visit