Online Education

Below is a current listing of our online educational opportunities available in the APTA Academy of Aquatic Physical Therapy Education Center

Ai Chi: Empower your Patients! 

Evidence shows mind-body therapies are a promising option for a wide range of
conditions especially for chronic disease. Ai Chi is an aquatic mind-body therapy based
on principals of Qigong and is often used in group aquatic exercise class settings.
However, Ai Chi has potential for much broader application during one-on-one aquatic
physical therapy sessions to address individual treatment goals. This educational
session will review mechanistic studies demonstrating how mind-body therapies may
improve clinical outcomes. In addition, current evidence on pain neuroscience will be
discussed and integrated with Ai Chi clinical practice. The speaker will synthesize
numerous articles about the effects of Ai Chi on pain, balance, functional activities and
quality of life for a variety of patient populations including Parkinson’s disease,
fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, balance impairments, low back pain and more. The
underlying principles of Ai Chi will be reviewed and innovative ideas on clinical
application will be given. Video cased studies will be utilized to show specific examples
of Ai Chi application within individual physical therapy sessions with actual patients.
Information will be presented at a level that will benefit students, new therapists, as well
as experienced clinicians.

Aquatic Interventions for the Lower Extremity: Justifications and Applications 

While lower extremity diagnoses are commonly referred for aquatic interventions, are the properties of water applied to maximize a patient’s benefit. This course has a dual purpose to discuss the precise physical components of water and justify why these properties optimally benefit a patient at specific times in the rehab process. We need also understand how those properties of water may impede progress if not applied correctly or at specific times in the healing continuum. Additionally, this course will take those unique properties of water to provide a comprehensive progression for various lower extremity conditions. Discussion of current research to justify aquatics for specific conditions will conclude this course.

Benefits of Aquatic Exercise on Children and Adolescents with Obestiy and a Disability 

Childhood obesity is one of the most critical and accelerating health challenges. Pediatric obesity is a international concern and physical therapists are able to help to decrease the risk. Children with special needs have a very high risk and incidence of obesity and pediatric physical therapists have a major role to play in addressing this. Research supports the aquatic medium as being beneficial to addressing pediatric obesity.

One if by Land, Two if by Water: Aquatic Interventions in PT and PTA Education Progams

Utilization of the aquatic environment for therapeutic purpose in the United States has been documented in the literature since the early 1900s. Over the past thirty years, aquatic therapy services have become significantly more prevalent within rehabilitation facilities. This increase in service provision demands a fundamental knowledge base by clinicians of the physical properties of water, the physiological impact of water immersion, safety measures in the aquatic environment and fundamental aquatic therapeutic interventions. Inclusion of this content in PT and PTA programs is not consistent for the aquatic environment. CAPTE standards and required elements for accreditation of PT and PTA programs includes interventions such as functional training, motor function training and therapeutic exercise. All CAPTE accredited PT and PTA program include these components for land interventions. Therefore, education in entry level programs in this area of clinical practice is necessary. This presentation will provide suggested didactic content on fundamental and introductory components of aquatic rehabilitation, delivery methods, and laboratory experiences for PT and PTA programs. Identifying content experts to deliver this material poses a challenge for many programs if core faculty does not possess this knowledge. Identifying those with expertise more readily available to academic programs will also be discussed.

Diving Into The Pain Revolution: Land THerapy, Aquatic Therapy, or Both? 

The aquatic environment offers unique benefits due to the properties of water, which
are not always possible to achieve with land-based exercises. These positive benefits
directly affect the nervous system, musculoskeletal system, and other systems which
can make water the perfect environment for individuals to move better, even though
they are experiencing pain. Growing evidence shows that pain neuroscience education
can have a positive effect on outcomes for individuals with pain, but PNE has been
found to be most effective when combined with movement. Aquatic therapy with PNE is
often that perfect environment for the individual with pain. Join pain and aquatic
therapy experts to learn when, why, and how practitioners should consider using PNE
with aquatic therapy for the treatment of patients experiencing pain. 


To Pool or Not to Pool

What if your pool patient came into the clinic with a bandage on his elbow reporting he fell yesterday? Would you cover the wound and let him in the pool or see him on land instead? What if the woman you evaluated has a history of seizures and incontinence? Would you select aquatic therapy for her treatment plan?

Decisions, decision, decisions. Every day you make decisions about your patients including whether or not to select aquatic physical therapy as their treatment intervention. The benefits and risks of aquatic physical therapy for every individual patient must be considered when making these decisions. This presentation will give you information to help make this clinical judgement. Various potential precautions or contraindications will be discussed along with ways to mitigate the risk of immersion with each precaution. The group will discuss various case scenarios and talk though the decision making process of whether or not you choose to pool or not to pool.


Using Aquatic Interventions for Functional Improvements in the Older Adult Client

All too often aquatic therapy and exercise has been relegated to a secondary role when considering functional training for a wide spectrum of older adults. Due in part, to the fact the there is a paucity of literature addressing this topic as well as the mere fact that humans live on land, water therapies have been considered to have limited benefit in addressing either maintenance of or improvement of functional skills. This webinar will define specific, simple functional activities that are within the repertoire of the modern-day older adult. Using objective measures to quantify improvement, this webinar will demonstrate progressions for each skill set. Lastly, there will be a discussion of current literature addressing the use of aquatic interventions to upgrade land function.

Management of Acute and Chronic Edema and Lymphadema in an Aquatic Environment

This course describes the application of aquatic therapy as a tool in managing acute and chronic sources of edema – mechanical/ acute orthopedic, venous insufficiency, congestive heart failure, and lymphedema. By applying the principles of the physiologic impact of submersion and use of hydrostatic pressure to each unique pathology, the participant can critically apply these concepts to common conditions seen as primary or co-morbidity conditions in the clinic. Additionally, the course describes in more depth the role that aquatic therapy can play in managing lymphedema by stimulating the lymphatic system and using manual lymph drainage strategies in the water. While this is not a comprehensive lymphedema management course, there is a brief review of lymphatic flow and therapeutic activities that may be both beneficial and appropriate for maintenance strategies.

Aquatic Techniques for Lower Extremities

In this session the presenter will review the benefits of aquatic therapeutic interventions in the treatment of lower extremity impairments. Aquatic balance, strengthening and plyometric interventions are provided to meet the needs of various skill levels. Relevant aquatic therapy research will be discussed as it relates to the clinical decision-making process. The goal of this session is to provide the clinician skills to apply the research recommendations into practice.

Cardiovascular Assessment and Activity to Mediate Decline with Neuromuscular Conditions

Aerobic cardiovascular fitness is comparatively low for individuals with SCI, approximately 25% of otherwise healthy young individuals with SCI fail to achieve oxygen consumption levels sufficient to perform essential activities of daily living (ADLs). Glucose metabolism, cytokine levels, HDL concentration, and self-esteem magnitude can be modified through increased physical activity including arm cycle ergometry, functional electrical stimulation, robotically assisted treadmill training, and aquatic exercise. However, controversy exists regarding the frequency and intensity required to achieve these beneficial effects. Clinically it is vital for optimal client health to assess baseline and post intervention cardiovascular levels. This presentation will increase understanding of cardiovascular fitness assessment and intervention for individuals with spinal cord injury as well as other chronic neuromuscular conditions. Pragmatic case examples demonstrate the systemic health issues linked to cardiovascular fitness, intervention concepts, and assessment possibilities (clinical and research). Our ultimate goal is to increase practitioner awareness and advocacy for annual cardiovascular assessment and intervention for all individuals living with chronic neuromuscular conditions.

Navigating the Waters of Patients in Pain: A Pain Neuroscience Approach to Aquatic Physical Therapy

Our world is immersed in a pain crisis, and many patients are referred for aquatic physical therapy to address issues related to acute and chronic pain. Leading research pioneers in pain science stress the need to assess and change our patients’ cognitions, beliefs and fears BEFORE launching into a movement-based approach to rehabilitation. This webinar will provide an introduction to Pain Neuroscience Education (PNE) and demonstrate how to incorporate PNE concepts into aquatic therapy sessions; differentiate “tissue issues” from “pain issues”; and how to invite patients to begin the conversation to share their pain experience. Participants will be introduced to current research as well as discover opportunities for more in-depth PNE education and training.