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Children with Disabilities Hydrotherapy in Ukraine

by Dzherelo Children's Rehabilitation Centre
Children with Disabilities Hydrotherapy in Ukraine
Children with Disabilities Hydrotherapy in Ukraine
Children with Disabilities Hydrotherapy in Ukraine
Children with Disabilities Hydrotherapy in Ukraine
Children with Disabilities Hydrotherapy in Ukraine
Children with Disabilities Hydrotherapy in Ukraine
Children with Disabilities Hydrotherapy in Ukraine
Children with Disabilities Hydrotherapy in Ukraine

Although summer break at Dzherelo Centre means fewer children on site daily, it does not stop the work here. Dzherelo Centre's pool is ready for Hydrotherapy! 

Consider the reasons why jumping in a lake or sea feels so good! Relaxation, comfort, cooling off, most of us have our reasons for enjoying a day by the water. In the last school year, the children of Dzherelo Centre have benefitted from the use of Hydrotherapy and connections with physical therapy teams. The children have participated in a wide variety of therapeutic water activities designed to relax them while strengthening muscles and developing self- confidence.  

The number of children has increased by 24 in the last school year, thus proving community support and need for the program. Parents have been excited to see their children expressing joy while receiving therapy. Exuberant sounds are heard through the hallways, so one always knows when a session is occurring. 

“The pool is cool because it’s for children and it helps them with their illnesses. It is interesting how water helps conditions or problems with stress. It is obvious to me that a hydrotherapy pool should be here at Dzherelo,” claimed Nastia, a new volunteer at Dzherelo Centre. 

Here's an article published in North American Journal of Medical Sciences (NAJMS) discussing the use of Hydrotherapy:

Hydrotherapy session at Dzherelo
Hydrotherapy session at Dzherelo

Since January, 24 more participants have enjoyed the benefits of Dzherelo Children’s Rehabilitation Centre’s Hydrotherapy program. The youth have worked with the physical therapist in developing their health plan. Parents have comments on how nice it is that their children get to forget the weight of their bodies while in the water and working while playing. 

One participant with Cerebral Palsy symptoms, Dima*, who is 12-years-old, really enjoys the hydrotherapy sessions. He likes feeling weightless and likes to splash. Unbeknownst to Dima, his splashing is strengthening and toning his arm muscles, which helps him be able to move his wheelchair better as he improves his range of motion. 

Another participant who has Autism, Sasha* and is 8-years-old, uses the water as practice for different sensory experiences. The water therapy helps with his learning to balance his senses with motor functioning. Sasha has benefited from hydrotherapy in that he can better tell how his body fits into spaces, and moving around in water creates a controlled vestibular situation that is safe for him. He has a sense of mastery as he practices kicking and reaching. 

Without donor support, Dzherelo’s Hydrotherapy program could not exist. The program has worked diligently to make children comfortable while they grow and become stronger. Thank you to all who have contributed and support this program.  

 (*names changed due to confidentiality)

We get a kick out of you!
We get a kick out of you!


As I recently walked down the hallway, there was a loud laugh followed by a splash. Wondering who jumped in the pool, I realize there was a new participant in the Hydrotherapy program. Dmitro,* a 12-year-old young man who has Cerebral Palsy, had thrown some of his exercise equipment into the pool. He was being entering the pool with the therapist and his mother, who decided to assist in the session. Natalia* was ready to get to work as she focused on learning how to stretch her son's muscles and take his physical therapy to new levels. 

Parental involvement in therapeutic services has improved more than just morale. Parents are able to replicate some of the exercises outside of hydrotherapy to their daily life. Therapists are modeling movements and how to set boundaries with the children, so that parents learn from actively participating with the hydrotherapy program. Although one can debate the role of parents in their children's therapy, so far most parents at Dzherelo Centre are able to learn and communicate better with their child with severe special needs. Additionally, parents are using the pool, which is a treat for them, too. Quality time with a child is always a god thing. 

So far in 2019, we have seen an increase in children obtaining services from physical therapy and psychology departments, including Hydrotherapy. Our team of specialists are continuously updating their skills and encouraging parental involvement. 

*names changed to respect confidentiality of minor and his family. 

In 2018 year, 359 Hydrotherapy sessions have taken place! During the year, children have had the opportunity to jump in the water, gain strength, and forget that the water is helping them to develop new skills. Children who struggle with muscle issues and gross motor skills have worked towards developmental milestones with the help of their parents and physical therapists. 

Most of the year was an active one. Two physical therapists were the Hydrotherapy team who worked in conjunction with other therapists. Although Dzherelo Centre closed for August and had the pool drained and cleaned, therapists were busy creating unique treatment protocols for children who have conditions such as Cerebral Palsy and Autism. The child to therapist relationship is an important one as skills gained are recognized immediately. 

The pool is active on most days and the youth have become to appreciate the warm water as soothing and fun. Parents observe the sessions, mostly to see their child do things in the pool that they have yet to do outside of water. The therapists are supportive of parents joining the session, if parents choose. 

We look forward to more sessions and continue support of the Dzherelo Children’s Rehabilitation Centre’s Hydrotherapy project in 2019. Thank you for your interest in the program. 

Parent's Sideline View (from the corridor)

Thanks to Dzherelo Children’s Rehabilitation Centre’s benefactors, staff, and parents for trusting in the Hydrotherapy process with their children! We have a lot of interest and use of this service initiated by the physical therapy department. Hydrotherapy or aquatic therapy offers benefits of health and wellbeing of children and youth with a range of disabilities and health conditions:

  • The warm water temperature has an effect on the individual neuro-muscular areas which results in decreased muscle tone and decreased spasticity.
  • Water buoyancy is used to assist movement of joints - which is either more difficult or painful on dry land.
  • Movement in the water and water pressure helps to reduce residual lung capacity for children and young people with chest problems. This enables more efficient lung function and reduces the risk of chest infections developing. (Reference: ). 

After a good summer pool cleaning and start of the school year, Dzherelo Children’s Rehabilitation Centre has continued to offer aquatic therapy services to it’s families. Parents are observing tangible changes in their children’s expectations of a fun and relaxing way to receive physical therapy. One parent reported their were two things difficult about the program: 1) getting her child out of the pool and 2) changing out of wet swim clothes! Dzherelo does have large private changing areas that are accessible for family use. By working one-on-one with the specialist, children receive individualized treatment plans, focused goals, and encouragement to play while strengthening. 

Although we offer hydrotherapy throughout the day, mid-day seems to be most popular for the 30-45 minute sessions. Parents are engaging in sessions while they observe and cheerlead from poolside. Children often arrive anxiously awaiting their session and are visibly relaxed when it’s completed. The personalized attention seems to benefit self-esteem and respite from their problems. 



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Organization Information

Dzherelo Children's Rehabilitation Centre

Location: Lviv - Ukraine
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Christina Taylor
Lviv, Lviv Ukraine

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