Benefits and Enjoyment of a Swimming Intervention for Youth With Cerebral Palsy: An RCT Study

Pediatr Phys Ther. 2016 Summer;28(2):162-9. doi: 10.1097/PEP.0000000000000235.


Purpose: To investigate enjoyment and specific benefits of a swimming intervention for youth with cerebral palsy (CP).

Methods: Fourteen youth with CP (aged 7 to 17 years, Gross Motor Function Classification System levels I to III) were randomly assigned to control and swimming groups. Walking ability, swimming skills, fatigue, and pain were assessed at baseline, after a 10-week swimming intervention (2/week, 40-50 minutes) or control period, after a 5-week follow-up and, for the intervention group, after a 20-week follow-up period. The level of enjoyment of each swim-session was assessed.

Results: Levels of enjoyment were high. Walking and swimming skills improved significantly more in the swimming than in the control group (P = .043; P = .002, respectively), whereas fatigue and pain did not increase. After 20 weeks, gains in walking and swimming skills were retained (P = .017; P = .016, respectively).

Conclusion: We recommend a swimming program for youth with CP to complement a physical therapy program.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cerebral Palsy / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Swimming / physiology*
  • Swimming / psychology*
  • Walking / physiology
  • Walking / psychology