Faculty Advisor(s)

Maureen Rinehimer



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BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Living with visual impairment can greatly affect one’s ability to exercise and maintain an active lifestyle. People with low vision or parents of children with low vision are often fearful of aerobic exercise because of the possibility of harm that could occur from the inability to see. Little research has been done on using aquatic therapy as a form of exercise in people with low vision. The purpose of this study is to see if aquatic exercise is well tolerated within this population. Additionally, this study serves to determine the effect of aquatic exercise on cardiovascular fitness, functional strength, and overall quality of life.

METHOD(S): This is a quasi-experimental study with participants who have a visual impairment and are aged 30-85 from Northeast Sight Services located in Exeter, PA. Up to 25 participants will be guided by physical therapy students through an eight-week aquatic therapy program at the Misericordia University Anderson Center Pool. It is a pre-test and post-test design with the outcome measures being performed at the beginning of week one and at the end of week eight. The outcome measures selected to assess lower extremity strength and endurance, cardiopulmonary fitness and endurance, and quality of life include the 30 Second Chair Stand Test, Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE), the Modified Borg Dyspnea Scale, and the SF-36.

DISCUSSION: If aquatic exercise shows to be effective in improving lower extremity strength and endurance, cardiopulmonary fitness and endurance, and quality of life for those with visual impairments, it will show that this is a viable treatment method for physical therapists to use with this population. It will also give physical therapists the opportunity to promote health and wellness in community members that have visual impairments.

Publication Date


Document Type



Physical Therapy


Visually impaired, aquatic, exercise


Medicine and Health Sciences

Clinical Effectiveness of an Aquatic Exercise Program on Those with Visual Impairments: A Protocol Study