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Adapted Aquatics Program

Adapted Aquatics Program

Multiple Sclerosis Adapted Aquatic Program

The Adapted Aquatics Program for people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a collaborative community partnership for wellness, originally piloted during the summer of 2008. The Aquatics Program co-hosts this aquatic therapy program in the accessible, eight-lane swimming pool located in the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center (WRAC). An interdisciplinary educational approach links faculty members and students from occupational therapy, physical therapy, sports sciences with the WRAC Aquatics staff, all of whom provide the necessary support both in and outside of the pool. The Program aids individuals living with MS, who are already actively engaged with the New York City chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and who require more assistance than the chapter’s community-based aquatics programs provide. The Program is called SWEAT (Swimming for Wellness, Exercise and Aquatic Therapy) and participants are able to receive the benefits of an individualized, water-based therapy program to support their physical, social and emotional well-being.

The Program was conceived and is coordinated by Dr. Anne Scott of the Brooklyn Campus’ Division of Occupational Therapy, with JoEllen Zembruski-Ruple, CTRS, program director of Recreation and Rehabilitation Services of the New York City chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and with Fran Clifford, aquatics director from the NYC Chinatown YMCA. This team is rounded out by Dr. Yasser Salem of the Division of Physical Therapy and Professor Eugene Spatz, of the Division of Sports Sciences.

Initial funding for the Program was obtained through a Wellness Grant initiated by Brooklyn Campus Provost Gale Stevens Haynes, with matching funds from the New York City chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Subsequent funding has been received from the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation Quality of Life Grants, for ongoing programming and support for specialized equipment.

The grant links faculty and staff members from Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus and pilots an accessible adaptive aquatics demonstration program for people with MS. The WRAC aquatics director, Bryna Gutner coordinates the facility resources with Professor Spatz, who developed a new class SPS 102 -Adapted Aquatics, that was offered for the first time in Spring 2009. Students enrolled in SPS 102 assist clients with MS on a one-to-one basis, as they learn principles of therapeutic aquatics programming with instructor Fran Clifford, who offers many years of experience in specialized aquatics. Occupational therapy students provide evaluation to review the efficacy of the Program, in conjunction with their capstone research course. In the initial Summer 2008 pilot, clients with MS reported an increased level of life satisfaction and enhanced functional ability to engage in their daily activities.

To join the Program or for more information, please contact Please include the following information in your e-mail: Name, address, telephone number.

Lupus Adapted Aquatics Program

Blending an ancient art with a new approach, ai chi or aquatic tai chi is being used in an innovative program to support people with lupus. The benefits of tai chi are well known for arthritis, high blood pressure and the elderly-at risk for falls. Aquatic ai chi combines the harmony of tai chi with the healing properties of water. Ai Chi is a unique blend of tai chi forms, water fitness and yogic breathing that helps center the individual physically and emotionally. The gentle movement in the water enhances flexibility, posture, balance, relaxation and sense of wellbeing. Until now, it has not been tapped as an approach to wellness for people with lupus. The program is offered in the fall semester – October through December on a weekly basis.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which disproportionately affects women of color. They often live in the shadows of life experiencing intermittent pain, joint inflammation and “flares”, with severe fatigue and limited ability to engage in their everyday activities. A new program at Long Island University has been designed to offer support and to research the potential benefits of ai chi on reducing pain, fatigue and to increase engagement in daily activity. Although the program has only started some clients report a renewed sense of vigor and feel empowered to take on more of life’s challenges, while living with a chronic illness.

This is a collaborative effort with the Lupus Cooperative of LCNY-Brooklyn Division of the SLE Lupus Foundation and Long Island University’s Health and Wellness Institute, which seeks to “promote good health and to encourage wellness behaviors that reduce health disparities and improve the quality of life for members of the Campus and community.” This program links a Sports Science Course, in which students learn how to use adapted aquatics, while working with clients with lupus. The program was developed by an occupational therapist, Dr. Anne Scott and a physical therapist, Dr. Yasser Salem in collaboration with Fran Clifford of the Chinatown YMCA, a specialist in adapted aquatics. Dr. Jane Katz of John Jay College, a noted educator, author, and world-class competitive and long distance swimmer specialist served as consultant to the project funded by an LIU Provost’s Wellness Grant.

Research related to the program has been presented at a national level conference (The Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association) held in New Orleans, LA, in February 2011 and is accepted for a presentation at an international level conference (The World Congress of Physical Therapy) to be held in Amsterdam, Holland in June 2011. It has also been featured on the website of the S. L. E. Lupus Foundation

Contact: Dr. Anne Scott or Fran Clifford or Tayumika Zurita of