Keren Or boasts a world-class hydrotherapy center, and a skilled team of therapists who specialize in treating children with visual impairments and profound disabilities.
Hydrotherapy has many benefits specifically for blind children:
Trust and self-confidence
Water helps define space and build trust as it envelopes those who cannot see their surroundings. Many children actually learn to swim independently as their fear and hesitation are replaced by the confidence necessary for navigating the pool unassisted. The pool presents a wondrous experience that cannot be replicated in other settings.
Support and stability
Water increases muscle control which makes it easier for students to straighten their legs and learn to roll over, crawl, walk, navigate stairs, sit and stand. The water’s warmth and natural buoyancy also impact muscle tone, yielding stronger and longer muscles and improved flexibility. Thanks to hydrotherapy, many children who use wheelchairs have begun to take a few steps, and others, who walked with assistance, have learned to walk unaided.
Although it is serious work, hydrotherapy is pure pleasure for many of our students. The relaxed atmosphere and close bonds that are formed with the therapists encourage social engagement which is often unavailable to these students in their daily lives. To see a child happily moving his arms and legs in the pool after he has spent hours in a wheelchair is heartwarming.
After performing a functional assessment of the child’s vision, Dalia recommends personalized adaptations based on the needs of the particular child. For example, if the child can see certain colors better than others, or has vision in a peripheral field, educational tools will be made using those colors and will be shown from the required angle. Many children with CVI have an easier time seeing things that are shiny, that are lit up, that move, or that are placed on a plain black background without other “visual clutter.” As such, games, communication buttons, therapy tools and classroom materials are designed with these aesthetic principles in mind.
Improved vision opens up a world of new possibilities for the child. They may now be able to communicate using eye gaze technology, learn using an iPad, or move independently in a motorized wheelchair. Most of all, they can learn to recognize their parent’s face, an accomplishment that changes the life of both child and family forever.
Communication and mouth control
Aquatic therapy – a specialized form of hydrotherapy – builds on the capacity of water to strengthen the muscles that control chewing, swallowing, and vocalizing.