The Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC)


The Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) is guidance based on the latest science and best practices to help ensure healthy and safe experiences in pools. You can access the MAHC here to create or update your pool rules to reduce the risk of illness and injury. The website has forms, protocols, and other resources for aquatic staff to establish or strengthen their aquatic health and safety programs.

As Director of Practice, I answer member questions via email or phone. Occasionally, I find answers to questions on the CDC website or in courses offered by the AAPT. We all have different experiences at our practice sites, and I feel we can all learn from each other. In the area of "best practice" for aquatic therapists, we recently received an interesting question that I wanted to share.

How do I work with a patient with a visual impairment in the pool?

  • Call ahead of time to let the patient know what to expect at the facility (where to go, check-in location, items to bring, etc.) and to answer any questions.
  • I always ask the patient how they would like to be introduced to a new environment. For example, a cane with a walking tour of the facility. We discuss how to locate stairs, counting steps, what sounds they will hear, and what they mean. We also discuss how to identify and negotiate obstacles in the waiting room, locker room, and pool deck.
  • Ask ahead of time to confirm agreement to touch (directing hand movement, touching the body to let the patient know what muscles should be activated, etc.).
  • I always keep one hand on the patient so they will know where I am in addition to verbal cues. Practice verbalizing movements for the patient to hear.
  • I use a rope to give a tactile cue/safety barrier for the changing depths of the pool and locations for safety and to make sure no other patients or equipment come into our pool area.
  • If the patient would like to continue their exercise program in a community pool, discuss how you as the therapist can record the descriptions of the exercises for the patient's future use.

I hope the question and response sparked some treatment ideas in your head. If you have any questions about aquatic physical therapy, safety, or understanding the MAHC, or if you would like to share your practice experience with other members, please contact our office.

Shelly Muhlenkamp
Director of Practice
The Academy of Aquatic Physical Therapy



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