Aquatic Therapy

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Duke Health occupational therapists and physical therapists offer aquatic therapy at three locations to promote healing, reduce musculoskeletal pain, increase mobility, and more. One-on-one therapy services are performed in the water and can be a safe alternative to land-based therapy for children and adults. Your doctor or therapist may recommend aquatic therapy for a variety of reasons, including neurologic conditions, orthopedic injuries, chronic pain, and more.

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Why Choose Aquatic Therapy

When land-based movement is painful or difficult, aquatic therapy may be a good choice. It is performed in water, which supports your body so you can move more easily with less impact on your joints. Water also provides resistance so you can strengthen your muscles and increase mobility. 

No Swimming Skills Necessary
Aquatic therapy sessions will take place at one of three Duke Health therapy pool locations. You don’t need to know how to swim to participate in aquatic therapy. Depending on your requirements and goals, your occupational therapist or physical therapist will incorporate flotation devices and other equipment, or you may exercise while standing. 

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Aquatic Therapy Assessment and Treatment

Referral Required
You will need a referral from your doctor for physical therapy or occupational therapy before you can make an evaluation appointment for aquatic therapy. 

Assessment for Aquatic Therapy
Before your first aquatic therapy session, you will have a land-based evaluation with an occupational therapist or physical therapist. Your therapist will consider your past medical history when determining if aquatic therapy is right for you.

During your evaluation, your therapist will learn more about your medical condition and any pain you are experiencing. They will assess your strength, range of motion, and balance and will make a recommendation for an appropriate number of aquatic therapy sessions.

Customized Treatment Plan
Your occupational therapist or physical therapist will work with you to create a treatment plan that meets your needs. For example, you may want to continue exercising at a local pool after your therapy is complete. In this case, your therapist can ensure that you learn and practice skills that will allow you to safely move and exercise on your own at a community pool. 

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Our Aquatic Therapy Locations

Duke offers three aquatic therapy locations with accessible pool entry in Durham. Your evaluating therapist will determine which facility is the best fit for you. For instance, a young athlete recovering from a sports injury may have aquatic therapy sessions at the Duke Sports Sciences Institute, while someone with mobility difficulties may visit our Lenox Baker facility, which offers ramped pool access. 

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals

Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 11 adult and 10 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2024–2025.

This page was medically reviewed on 04/10/2023 by