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Water-Based Interventions for the Pediatric Therapist: An Aquatic Therapy Primer

Location: Hudson, WI (Located approximately 30 minutes from Minneapolis, MN)

Dates: October 26-27, 2024

16 CEUs

Instructor: Kiki Dickinson, MPT, PAqI

ATU Course #: PS801

Cost: $595


Aquatic Therapy University: Aquatic Therapy for the Pediatric Therapist

This 16 hour in-service is designed to rapidly introduce pediatric therapists to motor, sensory and play-based interventions in water. It will provide a “sampler lab” of the most clinically useful elements of popular aquatic specialty techniques such as: Aquatic Sensory Integration (ASI), Watsu®, the Bad Ragaz Ring Method, flow-through mat work, and functional skills training and will briefly examine research which supports aquatic therapy for the child and explore contraindications, including prevailing precaution myths. Course will be co-instructed by a PT and OT.

Learning Objectives

1. Describe why aquatic therapy may be the treatment of choice if (a) the patient has poor head or trunk righting, (b) the patient has spasticity or rigidity, (c) the patient has abnormal reflexes; or (d) the patient has difficulty with transitions (lecture).

2. Recite 3-4 aquatic precautions and contraindications specific to the pediatric patient (lecture).

3. Describe 1-2 ways that the goals of water-based OT, PT, and speech should differ. Outline 1-2 ways to divide labor and schedule pool-time when all three disciplines are involved in a child’s care (lecture)

4. Describe a successful way to co-treat in water and be reimbursed for the services provided (lecture)

5. Locate what payers (including Medicaid) have to say about aquatic therapy for the pediatric patient (lecture)

6. Make a 3 minute verbal “case” for providing aquatic therapy services for a pediatric patient. Be able to identify and locate supportive research to bolster case (lecture).

7. Perform 3-4 aquatic therapeutic movements, tasks, or exercises designed to:

  • increase strength
  • improve ROM
  • improve oral motor skills
  • normalize sensory input (vestibular, visual, auditory, tactile, proprioceptive)
  • normalize tone
  • improve head and trunk righting
  • encourage play, verbalization and social interaction
  • improve posture, weight-bearing, balance, gait and proprioception
  • normalize transitional movements (lab)

8. Demonstrate 1-2 aquatic tasks or activities from each of the following specialty techniques (as each relates to the pediatric client):

  • Adapted play
  • Aquatic Sensory Integration (ASI)
  • Aquatic manual therapy and stretching
  • Bad Ragaz Ring Method
  • Rotational control tasks (based on the Halliwick Concept)
  • Swim stroke modification
  • Watsu (lab)

9. Progress a specific aquatic task from a lower level of function towards increased independence (lab)

10. With a partner, design and implement a 15-minute aquatic treatment plan (including equipment selection) for 1-2 of the following:

  • Non-progressive neurological disorder (e.g. cerebral palsy)
  • Progressive neurological disorder (e.g. muscular dystrophy)
  • Pervasive developmental disorder (e.g. autism)
  • Failure-to-thrive and developmental delay
  • Trauma (lab)

CE Approval

Target Audience

PT's, PTA's, OT's, COTA's, SLP's, and other aquatic professionals.



Day 1

7:30-8:00 Registration

8:00-12:00 Lecture

12:00-1:00 Lunc

1:00-5:00 Pool lab


Day 2

8:00-12:00 Lecture

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00-5:00 Pool lab


Lecture Location

Holiday Inn and Suites Hudson, WI

181 Carmichael Road

Hudson WI 54016



Pool Lab Location

St. Croix Therapy

742 Sterbenz Drive

Hudson, WI 54016



If you do not plan to rent a car or use ride share there is a shuttle that goes from the MSP airport to the Hudson, WI park and ride, a 10 minute walk from the Holiday Inn and Suites: If interested the contact info. is 715.830.9400 or If you don't have a car I recommend that you consider staying at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites (see lodging info below) where the lecture portion of the course is being held. I can arrange transportation to and from the pool lab portion of the course. 


***Discounted rate and lecture portion of the course being held at hotel listed below***

Holiday Inn and Suites Hudson, WI

181 Carmichael Road

Hudson WI 54016


***For discounted rate call hotel and ask for "The Hudson Hospital rate" , make reservations in advance before hotel is sold out.***

Hotel Link:

There are several other hotels near class location:

Best Western Plus

Comfort Suites

Hampton Inn and Suites

AmericInn by Wyndam

Meet your Instructor

Kiki Dickinson, MPT, PAqI

Kathleen (Kiki) Dickinson, MPT graduated from the College of St. Catherine with a master's degree in physical therapy. Kiki has over 25 years of pediatric and adult physical therapy experience at St. Croix Therapy (Therapeutic Services for Children and Adults) in Hudson, Wisconsin. She has extensive experience developing and implementing aquatic therapy programs for a diverse pediatric population which includes working with children of all ages including the birth-to-three population, as well as the ortho-neuro adult population.

Kiki founded North Star Aquatic Therapy to offer aquatic therapy courses for both the pediatric and adult populations. Kiki teaches custom aquatic therapy classes nationally and internationally with a focus on the neuro pediatric and geriatric population. Kiki has helped develop course manuals for several pediatric courses for Aquatic Therapy University (ATU) and has developed several of her own individual classes that she has presented at national and state APTA conferences. Kiki has a clinical and research interest in childhood obesity and the impact it has on the special needs population. Kiki has played a significant role in developing aquatic coursework for Speech Language Pathologists, including offering one of the first ASHA approved course in aquatics with ATU.

Kiki is certified in Halliwick, Bad Ragaz, Ai Chi and Cranio-sacral Therapy. Kiki has her Aquaticist℠ credentials from ATU. Kiki has been an adjunct professor at St. Catherine’s University for over 20 years and teaches Pediatric Coursework for their Physical Therapy Assistant Program.

Cancellation Policy

Programming Changes: Due to unforeseen circumstances, ATU schedules, instructors and/or meals may need to be changed without notice.

Cancellation of Class By ATU: ATU classes may be cancelled for low registration up to 30 days prior to the class. In this event, a full refund of class tuition or a voucher to another class will be issued to students. ATU does not reimburse change fees, airline tickets or any other travel related expenses, so please do not make plans until you receive the 30-day confirmation prior to the conference.

Cancellation of Class by Student: A refund, minus a $175 reseating fee, will be given for student cancellations made prior to 30 days before the conference. No refunds will be given for cancellations received after 30 day deadline. In the event of a student cancellation after the deadline, enrollment fees may be transferred to other ATU courses within 12 months at no charge.

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