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St. Francis Spotlight: Aquatic Therapy

Author: Dayna Stroik

August 15, 2019
St. Francis Spotlight: Aquatic Therapy

St. Francis Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine is equipped with a private, state-of-the-art therapeutic pool for adults in the 1601 medical office building on the St. Francis campus, and uses the pool at the Chaska Community Center for children’s aquatic therapy via St. Francis Capable Kids Pediatric Therapy.

What is aquatic therapy?
Aquatic therapy takes place in a special therapeutic pool, offering a variety of temperatures and water depths to accommodate each patient in order to provide benefits not achievable on land.

“The water in the therapeutic pool on the Shakopee campus is 96 degrees and ranges from 3’6” to 4’6” deep,” explains Cindy Filipek, aquatic therapist at St. Francis Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine. “It has a built-in treadmill, hydrojets and massage jets, and because we offer various depths and therapeutic flotation devices, swimming skills are not required.”

According to Cindy, the benefits of aquatic therapy include:

BUOYANCY. Water decreases body weight nearly 50 to 80 percent, making exercise possible for patients who struggle to perform land-based exercise.

RESISTANCE. Water increases resistance around 12 times over that of land. In our pool, we can adjust resistance, which helps strengthen motor planning, sensory processing and body awareness.

TEMPERATURE. Warm water temperatures relax muscles and dilate blood vessels and cooler water temperatures stimulate muscles and narrow the blood vessels.

PRESSURE. Water pressure reduces swelling and helps control pain, allowing for more comfortable exercise. It also can decrease tactile input for patients who display defensiveness to textural changes.

Who can benefit from aquatic therapy?
According to Carrie Pena, aquatic therapist at Capable Kids, adult and pediatric patients with the following diagnoses may benefit from the use of aquatic therapy:

  • - Autism
  • - Sensory processing disorders
  • - Orthopedic conditions
  • - Joint replacements
  • - Coordination disorders
  • - Neuromuscular disorders
  • - Spinal injuries
  • - Hypo/hypertonia
  • - Down syndrome
  • - Developmental Delay
  • - Multiple or complex disabilities
  • - Spinal muscular atrophy
  • - Cerebral palsy

Aquatic therapy for kids
Our St. Francis Capable Kids location in Chaska offers pediatric aquatic therapy at the Chaska Community Center.

"For children needing aquatic therapy in their physical or occupational therapy sessions, the pool offers a multisensory and highly motivating environment to achieve a child’s land-based goals,” says Carrie.

The Community Center has a children’s leisure pool, a warm spa and a lap pool. The leisure pool is kept between 86 and 88 degrees and the lap pool is 83 degrees, ensuring comfortable water for children with thermoregulation concerns or sensitivities.

For more information about adult aquatic therapy through St. Francis Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine, call 952-428-2001 or vis

For more information about children’s aquatic therapy through Capable Kids Pediatric Therapy, call 952-428-1250 or visit