Daryl Lawson publishes paper on impact of aquatic fitness

The paper, "A Case Study: Mobility and Health Impact of an Aquatic Fitness Program for a Woman With Intellectual and Physical Disabilities," was published in May in the International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education.

Daryl Lawson
Associate Professor of Physical Therapy Education Daryl Lawson worked on the research case study alongside a team of researchers from Spain on the aquatic program and outcome measures. Dan Reis, from Elon’s Teaching and Learning Technology, edited videos of the aquatic interventions that were used in the research case study. These videos can be accessed by links at the end of the research paper.

From the journal’s website:

A Case Study: Mobility and Health Impact of an Aquatic Fitness Program for a Woman With Intellectual and Physical Disabilities

Physical activity leads to better health and improved quality of life; however, many people with disabilities have limited mobility capabilities. The purpose of this case study was to determine the impact of a 16-month water exercise program on the mobility and quality of life for a 27-year-old woman, Andrea, diagnosed with severe mental and physical disabilities.

The Waterfit Golden Waves® program, designed for healthy older adults, was adapted for Andrea. Under physician supervision, water exercises were performed with a personal trainer, primarily in shallow water, 3 days/week, 30 – 40 minutes per session. Training objectives included cardiovascular and muscular endurance, flexibility, and activities of daily living (ADL). Pre- and post-assessments included circumference measures, joint range of motion, body composition, resting heart rate, and periodic video recordings of mobility. An outside evaluation by a licensed psychologist measured social and emotional outcomes.

Results indicated improvements in multiple areas to the extent that Andrea could now extend her spine enough to lie on her back. ADL mobility improvements included stair climb, sit to stand, walking speed, and walking distance without aide. Andrea’s quality of socialization and emotional well-being improved, as well. Time-lapse recordings of Andrea’s program and progress are included as links. In conclusion, this water fitness program, adapted to meet individual needs of a person with severe disabilities, was found to be effective in improving mobility, health, and quality of life for one woman. Further research is needed to measure the impact of water fitness protocols adapted for people who are intellectually and physically disabled.