Water Therapy Benefits in Rehabilitation

//Water Therapy Benefits in Rehabilitation

Water Therapy Benefits in Rehabilitation


What has 48 eyes, 96 arms and legs, one heart and lives on the water?

A dragon boat team!

Propel Physiotherapy has launched its first dragon boat team. The “Propellers” are set to compete at festivals around the Greater Toronto Area this summer, including the GWN Challenge on the Western Beaches Watercourse in downtown Toronto’s Marilyn Bell Park this September 9-10, 2017.¹

In ancient Chinese dragon culture from over 2000 years ago, open sea races of ornately decorated long boats powered by up to 50 paddlers were held as a way of appeasing the rain gods. Modern day dragon boats are typically 12 metres long and adorned with the trademark dragon head and tail. Eighteen to 20 paddlers, a steersperson, and the ubiquitous drummer work in synchrony to race over 200m to 2000m courses² Dragon boat racing has spread internationally as a symbol of patriotism, sportsmanship, and group integrity.

At Propel Physiotherapy, we have long recognized the physical and psychological benefits of water therapy in the rehabilitative process for people with spinal cord, brain, and neurological conditions. Aquatic exercise is regularly prescribed to our clients to improve their tolerance for exercise, rehabilitate injuries, or mitigate pain in a safe, empowering environment. The water’s buoyancy provides a “vacation from gravity” that frees clients from some of the physical restrictions imposed by their injuries or chronic conditions.

Beyond the pool, we have led individual and group recreational outings in the community to enable our clients to trial a variety of adapted outdoor activities in summer and winter including cross-country skiing and paddle boarding.

The Toronto Rehab Foundation’s Cottage Program³ and Abilities in Motion⁴ are local organizations that offer opportunities to experience inclusive outdoor recreational activities for people with spinal cord injuries and other disabilities at locations in downtown Toronto, Caledon, and Lake Joseph in the Muskokas. This includes waterfront pursuits like sailing, water skiing, canoeing, kayaking and fishing, and a variety of land-based activities such as hand cycling, mountain biking, outdoor shuffleboard, archery, barbequing and more.

Dragon boating is a water sport that has welcomed participation by people with physical disabilities. Adaptive Adventures in Colorado helps teams across the U.S. that not only participate in festivals, but who have medaled against able-bodied teams and occupy top ranks nationally. Their teams include people with amputations, visual-impairments, and spinal cord injuries.
“Dragon Boat racing creates an inclusive environment where people of all fitness levels and abilities can unite as a team and have fun! It focuses on working as a team to achieve one common goal, the finish line. Outside of competitions, Dragon Boat teams provide a community where you can find commitment, encouragement, and support.”⁵

In Canada, the National Championships have specific divisions for Breast Cancer Survivors and the Blind and Partially Sighted.⁶ In addition, these organizations are actively researching new ways to make the sport accessible to even more potential paddlers.⁷

Propel Physiotherapy’s experienced physiotherapists, kinesiologists, and exercise physiologists have the ability to customize and apply a therapeutic, water-based program to suit your recovery needs. We offer individualized programming in and out of the water. Remember that water therapy is beyond the therapeutic pool and includes all of the fun activities mentioned above.

If you are interested in starting water-based sports, water therapy, or have questions pertaining to dragon boat specifically, please do not hesitate to contact our front office at 416 621 2506 or e-mail us at [email protected]. We would be more than happy to begin your water adventures and recovery with you!


  1. GWN Challenge – GWN Dragon Boat.” //www.gwndragonboat.com/challenge/. Accessed 4 Aug. 2017
  2. (n.d.). International Dragon Boat Federation – IDBF History & Culture. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from https://www.idbf.org/history
  3. “Toronto Rehab Foundation – The Cottage Program for individuals ….” //www.torontorehabfoundation.com/News-Media/Library/Videos/The-Cottage-Program-for-individuals-living-with-Sp.aspx. Accessed 4 Aug. 2017.
  4. (n.d.). Abilities in Motion. Retrieved June 28, 2017, from //www.abilitiesinmotion.ca/
  5. “Dragon Boat Racing – Adaptive Adventures.” https://adaptiveadventures.org/dragon-boat-racing/. Accessed 4 Aug. 2017.
  6. “Dragon Boat Canada | Canadian Dragon Boat Championships.” //www.dragonboat.ca/canadian-championships. Accessed 4 Aug. 2017.
  7. “Dragon Boat Adapted Seat – YouTube.” 24 Aug. 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zy3yIYKJWA. Accessed 4 Aug. 2017.
By |2017-10-12T18:21:03+00:00August 28th, 2017|Hydrotherapy|0 Comments