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.