Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

The benefits of aquatic therapy as determined by a Pairwise Thematic Content Analysis of the peer-reviewed journals in therapeutic recreation

Kari Kensinger, PhD, CTRS, Sabrina Bates, BS, Sarah Breuer, BS, Erin Johnson, BS, Kylie Rhode, BS, Deanne Webber, BS


Aquatic therapy is an intervention commonly used by recreational therapists. This study used a pairwise content analysis of the American Journal of Recreation Therapy, the American Therapeutic Recreation Association's Annual in Therapeutic Recreation, and the Therapeutic Recreation Journal from 2003-2014 in order to determine the benefits of aquatic therapy. Many articles reviewed used a repeated measure analysis, or pre- and post-test evaluation to measure physiological benefits, leisure satisfaction, quality of life, self-efficacy, and pain. The three most common populations studied include: arthritis, autism spectrum disorder, and multiple sclerosis.


aquatic therapy, recreation therapy, pain, arthritis, autism, multiple sclerosis, quality of life

Full Text:



Stumbo N, Wardlaw B: Facilitation of therapeutic recreation services: An evidence-based and best practice approach to techniques and processes: State College, PA: Venture, 2011.

Austin DR: Therapeutic recreation. Processes and techniques: Evidence-based Recreational Therapy (7th ed). Champaign: Sagamore, 2013.

Broach E, Dattilo J: Aquatic therapy. In Dattilo J and McKenney A (eds). Facilitation Techniques Therapeutic Recreation. (2nd Ed.). Champaign, IL: Sagamore, 2011.

Babbie E: The Practice of Social Research (5th Edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1989.

Henderson K: Dimensions of choice: A qualitative approach to recreation, parks and tourism research. State College, PA: Venture, 1991.

Mikula J. Smith P, Meuleman, J et al.: Effects of a recreational therapy aquatic intervention: A case study on an older adult with uncontrolled orthostatic hypotension. Am J Recreation Ther. 2010; 9(3): 13-16.

Broach E, Dattilo J: The effect of aquatic therapy on strength of adults with multiple sclerosis. Ther Recreation J. 2003; 37(3): 224-239.

Gaskell J, Janssen MS: Benefits of a structure swim program for children diagnosed within the autism spectrum disorder. Am J Ther Recreation. 2014; 13(1): 9-16.

Walter AA, McCormick BP: Aquatic activity and emotional experience in adults with severe mental illness. Am J Ther Recreation. 2014; 13(2): 7-12.

Lawson L, Foster L, Harrington M: Effects of a swim program for children with autism spectrum disorder on skills, interest, and participation in swimming. Am J Recreation Ther. 2014; 13(2): 17-27.

Funderburk JA, Callis S: Aquatic intervention effect on quality of life prior to obesity surgery: A pilot study. Annu Ther Recreation. 2010; 18: 66-78.

Davis J, Nelson R: Aquatic exercise for pain management in older adults with osteoarthritis. Ther Recreation J. 2015; 49(4): 326.

Broach E, Dattilo J, McKenney A: Effects of aquatic therapy on perceived fun or enjoyment experiences of participants with multiple sclerosis. Ther Recreation J. 2007; 41(3): 179.

King S, Yang H, Malkin M: Perceived biopsychosocial benefits and leisure satisfaction from participation in an Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program. Am J Recreation Ther. 2006; 10(2): 9-16.

Guo L, Yang H, Malkin M: Self-efficacy and arthritis impact on health: The effect of an Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program. Am J Recreation Ther. 2009; 8(4): 9-18.

Berlin B, Moul DE, LePage JP et al.: The effect of aquatic therapy interventions on patients with depression: A comparison study. Annu Ther Recreation. 2003; 12: 7-14.

Zych A, Yang H, Malkin M: Perceived leisure satisfaction of participants in the Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program. Am J Recreation Ther. 2011; 10(2): 40-47.

Veenstra J, Brasile F, Stewart M: Perceived benefits of aquatic therapy for multiple sclerosis participants. Am J Recreation Ther. 2003; 2(1): 33-48.

Kelley C, Loy DP: Comparing the effects of aquatic and land-based exercise on the physiological stress response of women with fibromyalgia. Ther Recreation J: 2008; 42(2): 103.



  • There are currently no refbacks.
This site uses cookies to maintain session information critical to the user's experience and environment on this system. Click "Accept Cookies" to continue.
For more details please visit our privacy statement at: Privacy & GDPR