Halliwick aquatic therapy is a rehabilitation intervention that is gaining popularity for people with disabilities. This scoping review provides an overview on the state of research about the impact of Halliwick aquatic therapy for children with disabilities.
Four electronic databases were searched to obtain research on the use of the Halliwick method for paediatric rehabilitation: Medline, CINAHL, Embase and PsycINFO. Potential citations were first screened by title and abstract, and full texts were then examined on the second round of screening. We analyzed the demographic details of their study population, how therapy was implemented (e.g., lesson frequency or structure), and what measurements were used, with measured variables mapped onto the domains of the framework for health of the WHO's International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF).
Twenty‐four publications met the inclusion criteria for this review. The majority of research included children with cerebral palsy (
n= 12) or autism spectrum disorder ( n= 8), with very few studies including other disabilities ( n= 5). There was a wide variation in the number of lessons per study and how each lesson was structured. Fourteen studies lacked a control group. Looking at ICF domains, all 24 articles measured variables pertaining to body structure and functions, four looked for changes in performance of daily activities, four into ability to participate in social roles, and seven into changes in personal factors. Conclusion
There is no consensus on how the Halliwick method should be structured for participants, leaving a gap for future research on programme implementation. To shift our viewpoint beyond what a disability prevents to what one's level of health and functioning allows, it is important to broaden the scope of research into the other ICF domains.