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Donley Center Aquatics


Therapy in the Pool


To provide comprehensive rehabilitation, patients frequently require the ability to move in a gravity-neutral or buoyant environment. This unweighting of the back or lower extremity allows the patient to move more freely with reduced effort and/or decreased pain. Additionally, water can be used as a resistive force for movement that is more tolerable than conventional weights or pulleys.

The Aquatic Physical Therapy department features a state-of-the-art 62-foot by 18-foot, 3-lane, 4-foot deep pool that is solar-heated to a therapeutic temperature at 92 degrees F. The pool area has natural lighting and controlled ventilation. Temperature, filtration and chemical feed systems are completely computerized, thus ensuring optimal water quality.

The pool and locker rooms are handicapped accessible. The pool has stairs with hand rails to facilitate entering and exiting. Swimming and walking lanes are 42 feet long with an 18-foot by 20-foot rectangular exercise area. A wide variety of therapeutic water equipment is available.

Aquatic physical therapy is initiated via referral from a licensed physical therapist. Using the properties of water, an individualized program is developed, which addresses the therapeutic goals indicated by the physical therapist.

Patients are educated as to the rationale and implementation of their therapy. Workouts are monitored and refined to produce an independent program which has been individualized to meet the patient's therapeutic needs and with the emphasis on carry-over to land activities.

In addition to stretches, strengthening, Range-of-Motion, mobility, flexibility, aerobic and stabilization exercises, and balance/gait training are also strong components of the aquatic therapeutic program. The resulting program provides a patient with the knowledge and ability to safely implement their own individualized program in an outside facility such as the YMCA, health club, or community pool to promote continued wellness and minimize risk of re-injury. Fear of the water or being a non-swimmer is not a barrier to aquatic physical therapy. Specialized water adjustment practices and swim instruction are available. See our brochure that describes our new Aquatic Therapy for Acute Care/Low Back Injuries. (pdf)


RI Department of Labor and Training
Dr. John E. Donley Rehabilitation Center
249 Blackstone Boulevard, Providence, RI 02906

Phone: (401) 243-1200
Fax (401) 222-3887
TTY via RI Relay: 711
5/16/17 MDF
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  DLT is an equal opportunity employer/program. Auxiliary aids and services available upon request