Funding and Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

by Jamie Sumner

My birthday falls right at the beginning of December when everyone is still recovering from Thanksgiving and scrambling to check off the Christmas list. No one wants to toss a birthday present in there. June birthdays are the best in my opinion. School’s out, the pool has just opened, and your party can be at the park, pool, zoo…you name it. You’re a hero in June and a villain in December for making mothers drag their kids to your lame-o party at Chuck-E-Cheese.

But one year my mom switched it up. She bought an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins and threw an indoor pool party at the local rec center. It was legendary. It was a stolen taste of summer.

This is what I think of every week when I take Charlie to aquatic therapy. I’m stealing freedom for him. Because in the pool, gravity becomes your friend. In the pool, Charlie first found easy movement. In the pool, high tone in his legs and low tone in his torso settle into a temporary truce. In the pool, the quiet warmth of the water works out all the kinks and calms the shoulder blades that normally jut like wings. In the pool, Charlie walks tall.

Aquatic Therapy Benefits

We’re two years going strong with aquatic therapy and I believe I’ve had enough time to judge the results. He is the most flexible the few days after a swim. He has less clonus (shaking) in his ankles. He holds his head up better. He even sleeps better. Socially, he’s also at his best in the water. He is not afraid of kids splashing or noise or getting his face wet. He’s found confidence there.

It is also something he can do almost anywhere. As long as the vacation spot has a pool/hot tub/ocean/lake, we know he will have a place to stretch and sneak in some movement.

Aquatic Therapy can:¹

  • Improve muscle tone
  • Increase core strength
  • Enhance circulation
  • Improve cardiovascular functioning
  • Improve flexibility
  • Increase endurance
  • Extend range of motion
  • Reduce muscle spasticity
  • Elevate metabolism
  • Reduce sleep disturbances
  • Relieve joint stress
  • Improve muscle tone
  • Increase stability
  • Decrease pain and discomfort

So we can all agree that swim therapy gets a two thumbs up. Sadly, insurance companies do not give the same approval. Maybe they see swimming and think leisure activity? For whatever the reason, most companies do not provide coverage, though some may if the therapy is provided by a physical therapist and billed as physical therapy.

So, using one of my special needs super powers—researching like a nerd—I’ve put together a list of grants and scholarships that DO offer funding. The best part: most of these are specific to therapies that fall outside of insurance and are not income based.

Grants and scholarships for aquatic therapy

Anchor of Hope Foundation

Anchor of Hope offers a grant of up to $250.00 toward therapies, equipment, and other needs that are not covered by insurance. A proof of diagnosis is required. Families may apply for one scholarships per child per calendar year.

This website provides access to a “Benefit Finder” which offers multiple search methods to quickly find state and federal benefits you may be entitled to.

The Challenged America Foundation

Gives $500 maximum grant to individuals with disabilities.

Danielle’s Foundation

This one is specific to children with cerebral palsy.

The Lindsay Foundation

The Lindsay Foundation is dedicated to assisting families who have children who have been diagnosed with long-term catastrophic illnesses, have not reached the age of 18 years, and reside at home. Grants are awarded based on the child’s need, not the family’s income.

The Maggie Welby Foundation

The Maggie Welby Foundation offers grants for children and families that have a financial need for a particular purpose. Grants may extend to children and families in need of help with bills, athletic opportunities, medical needs, or an opportunity that a child would not otherwise have.

Special Kids Therapy

Scholarship to be used for those therapies or activities that are not funded by public or private insurance, other charities, or government agencies.

United Healthcare Children’s Foundation

The UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides medical grants to help children gain access to health-related services not covered, or not fully covered, by their family’s commercial health insurance plan. This one was a great one for us!

Zane’s Foundation

Financial support can be designated for things such as: camps, therapies, respite, assistive or adaptive equipment, communicative devices that help to meet daily challenges.

Author: Jamie Sumner • Date: 2/13/2017


About the Author

Jamie Sumner is a mom to a son with cerebral palsy and twins. She writes with humor about infertility and special needs parenting on her website  Her articles have appeared in Complex Child Magazine, Parenting Special Needs Magazine, Magazine, Tribe Magazine, Her View From Home Magazine, and Literary Mama.

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