Original Research

The carry-over effect of an aquatic-based intervention in children with cerebral palsy

Samantha J. Ballington, Rowena Naidoo
African Journal of Disability | Vol 7 | a361 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v7i0.361 | © 2018 Samantha J. Ballington, Rowena Naidoo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 January 2017 | Published: 29 October 2018

About the author(s)

Samantha J. Ballington, Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Rowena Naidoo, Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Background: Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common motor disability in childhood. Children with CP are more likely to have lower levels of physical activity than their peers, which has negative implications for their health. However, aquatic exercise can be used to improve levels of fitness among children with CP.

Objective: To determine the carry-over effect of an aquatic-based programme (postural control and balance) on land (walking, running and jumping) in children with CP, post aquatic intervention.

Method: The study used a pretest-post-test, randomised group, cross-over design. Children aged 8–12 years (n = 10) were divided into intervention (n = 5) and control (n = 5) groups. The intervention group participated in two 30-min sessions a week, while the control group continued with normal activities. Pre- and post-intervention testing was conducted using gross motor function measurement. The 10-point programme of the Halliwick Concept was used.

Results: Results demonstrated that the aquatic therapy had a significant effect on gross motor function scores. The aquatic programme-based group showed increased motor function following the intervention, compared to the control group (z = -2.803, p = 0.005). Furthermore, the aquatic-based therapy improved the average score for gross motor function measurement, post-intervention.

Conclusion: Together with conventional modes of therapy, aquatic-based programmes should be integrated and considered as an essential, ongoing mode of treatment for children with CP, in order to ensure long-term gross motor function improvements.


Cerebral palsy; aquatic; gross motor function measure; Halliwick


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Crossref Citations

1. Exploring the use of Halliwick aquatic therapy in the rehabilitation of children with disabilities: A scoping review
Stephanie Rohn, Monika Novak Pavlic, Peter Rosenbaum
Child: Care, Health and Development  vol: 47  issue: 6  first page: 733  year: 2021  
doi: 10.1111/cch.12887