The Effect of Hydrotherapy Treatment on Functional Outcomes of Patients with Hereditary Spastic Paraparesis


      Hereditary spastic paraparesis (HSP) is a group of neurological disorders characterised by slowly progressive increasing muscle tone, predominantly in the lower limbs, with relatively preserved power. This leads to progressive difficulties in motor control and walking. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of hydrotherapy treatment when used as a means to increase locomotor function in individuals with late onset HSP.


      Pre-post intervention study.


      Sport and Exercise Biomechanics Laboratory at the University of Auckland.


      Nine participants genetically identified as having HSP.


      A 10-week hydrotherapy program of 45 minute sessions twice per week. A group session occurred at the beginning and at five weeks, while additional sessions were individualised and self-directed. In a session, participants would perform several lengths (in a constant depth pool) of walking forward, backward and sideways. This was followed by strengthening exercises of the lower limbs using the water for resistance. Some participant's required the additional resistance of pool noodles or inflatable water-wings, these would be placed around the ankle to make it more difficult to push the limb through the water. Swimming activities were also added to the programme if the participant was able to swim independently or with pool noodles for support.

      Main Outcome Measure(s)

      Pre- and Post- measures for: Modified Ashworth Scale, Timed Up and Go, Ten-metre Walk Test (TMWT), 6 Minute Walk Test (6MWT).


      Significant improvement in TMWT (time p=0.02, steps p=0.01) and 6MWT (p=0.056).


      Hydrotherapy increased locomotor outcomes of participants with HSP.

      Key Words

      hydrotherapy, paraparesis, task performance and analysis


      None disclosed.