Aquatic therapy for a child with type III spinal muscular atrophy: A case report

Yasser Salem, Stacy Jaffee Gropack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a neuromuscular disorder characterized by degeneration of alpha motor neurons. This case report describes an aquatic therapy program and the outcomes for a 3-year-old girl with type III SMA. Motor skills were examined using the 88-item Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM), the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales (PDMS-2), and the GAITRite system. The child received aquatic therapy twice per week for 45-min sessions, for 14 weeks. The intervention included aquatic activities designed to improve gross motor skills and age-appropriate functional mobility. The GMFM total score improved by 11% following the intervention. The Standing Dimension score improved by 28% and the Walking, Running, and Jumping Dimension score improved by 18%. The gross motor quotient for the PDMS-2 improved from 66 to 74. The child's gait showed improvement in walking velocity, stride length, and single-limb support time as a percentage of the gait cycle. The outcomes of this case report demonstrate the successful improvement of gross motor function and gait in a 3-year-old child with SMA. This study provides clinical information for therapists utilizing aquatic therapy as a modality for children with neuromuscular disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-324
Number of pages12
JournalPhysical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Aquatic therapy
  • physical therapy
  • rehabilitation
  • spinal muscular atrophy


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