Watsu – A powerful therapy for kids with special needs

A powerful therapy for kids with special needs 

Jake Sweet arrives poolside at First Street Fitness center in Bellevue, strapped in a complicated wheelchair that overwhelms his slight frame. His mom, Beverly Sweet of Bothell, lifts the 20-year-old, whose cerebral palsy renders him unable to walk or sit up on his own, and awkwardly yet gently passes him down to the arms of aquatic therapist Harriet Ott waiting in the warm pool.

Floating in the water, free of the metal chair and safety belts and supported by floats and Ott’s arms, Jake’s face erupts into a smile of unmistakable joy.

Supporting Jake in her arms, Ott swirls and sways the young man in the water. He expresses his happiness at intervals — guttural cries punctuated with smiles.

The support, movement and stretches Ott provides for Jake in the water make up a practice called Watsu, an aquatic therapy treatment developed in the 1980s by Seattle native Harold Dull, a massage therapist and poet, at Harbin Hot Springs in northern California…

Continue reading the full article here (written by Rhonda Aronwald)