The UP-H2O device consists of an outer floatation frame and an inner trunk support. The device is pictured with attached circumference straps (black) and a pelvic strap (blue). Both the trunk support and floatation frame can be adjusted medial to lateral to accomodate various trunk sizes.

UP-H2O: A Device for Upright Posture in Water

University of Hartford–Doctorate of Physical Therapy

Joshua Breighner

Traditional therapeutic interventions for people who lack or present with deficits in trunk control primarily focus on comfort and prevention of secondary impairments. The current standard of aquatic therapy for this population emulates this type of intervention, often consisting of a neck float and constant therapist contact. Failing to
provide children with affordances associated with upright posture in the pool limits the potential movement and participation benefits that the water has to offer. The purpose of this study is to develop a device capable of maintaining children in upright posture in water without the need for direct therapist contact. Secondary outcomes of extremity movement and participation in the water will be used to demonstrate efficacy of the device.

This device enables all children, regardless of the severity of their impairments, to develop autonomy of movement and enjoy water recreation in a way that was not previously possible. The device consists of a floatation frame that surrounds the child. The floatation portion of the device is mounted to the child on their trunk at the level
they lose trunk control using padded supports. The frame spreads medial/lateral for the child to be placed in between the supports before the device is narrowed to support the child’s trunk.

This device is expected to be implemented for all children who require external support in the pool. We anticipate that it will shift the course of aquatic therapy towards a more autonomous and inclusive experience for this population.

RESNA Design Brief


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