Factors influencing the use of aquatic therapy: an occupational perspective.

Sarah Young, Tracy Collins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Aquatic therapy has been identified as more conducive than land-based treatment options for a range of populations in improving health and quality of life. However, the prevalence of occupational therapists who implement aquatic therapy in practice is low.
Aim: To understand the perceptions of barriers and facilitators to aquatic therapy use by occupational therapists in the United States.
Methods: Individual semi-structured interviews were completed (via Skype) with four occupational therapists in the United States who held an ‘Aquatic Therapeutic Exercise Certification’ from the Aquatic Therapy and Rehab Institute (ATRI). Interviews were audio recorded and manually transcribed verbatim. Inductive thematic analysis was employed to identify themes and subthemes in the data.
Findings: The following three overarching themes were identified: institutional constraints and affordances impact aquatic therapy implementation; the perceived lack of unity within the occupational and aquatic therapy communities; and implications of aquatic therapy’s low prevalence within the occupational therapy profession.
Conclusions: The findings reveal that institutional factors including pool accessibility, insurance coverage, and employer support are determinants of practitioner’s abilities to use aquatic therapy. The research identified a desire for support through networking and the need to build the authority of occupational therapists in aquatic therapy to offset the barriers implicated with being a minority profession.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 27 May 2022


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