Watsuing children- In all instances, the watsu has contributed to the success of their session.
rom Kathy Bateman, Children's Hospital, Seattle, WA
I have worked with hundreds of children, ages 18 months through eighteen, with a variety of conditions and abilities. When appropriate, I have utilized watsu and other aquatic bodywork techniques for part or all of their session in the water
In all instances, the watsu has contributed to the success of their session.
As an introduction to the support of the water for recently injured kids which resulted in semi or total paralysis, the nurturing support of the watsu holds allowed them to relax, find freedom in the unconstricted aquatic environment, and feel the buoyancy that the water afforded their body.
In stroke patients, the hypertonic state of their muscles was overcome when they received watsu in the pool, and the affected limbs were able to relax, lengthen, and stretch, without inhibition while they were being floated. Their bodies responded to the nurturing and comfortable environment of the warm pool, and they experienced a relaxation and letting go of the tension that was present in their body.
In those with cerebal palsy, the relaxation was sometimes very pronounced, especially when they visited on a regular basis. When working with one particular severely affected child who visited regularly, (once to twice a week), I noticed that the time it took for her to relax decreased each visit, with the end result that when she was transferred from her wheelchair to the pool lift to begin her session, and the lift was suspended over the water as she was lowered in, her body visibly relaxed. Before even entering the water.
In another young child who has used the water for exercise, and who is showing an increased tendency toward spasticity, we are using watsu to encourage her to relax and float.
Another application has been the use of watsu for longterm, terminally ill patients. At the referral of a hospice manager, I have been able to provide this a few different times. One instance, the child had not been out of the house for about a month, but after hearing about watsu, chose to come and try it. His one hour session, thoroughly enjoyed, nearing an end, I whispered that we would soon have to exit the pool. Generally very weak, and barely able to whisper, he uttered a strong "NO!". By some fluke the program following his time was cancelled, and we were able to continue for another 30". The family watched, and were completely absorbed in the session, commenting later on the relaxation experienced by themselves, as well as observed. The mother came the following week and had a session, which she enjoyed. At the conclusion, she asked if this is what her child had felt. I explained that the experience is different for each.
When the child died, a friend of the family sent a note to tell me how much the family had appreciated the sessions, and that they found the watsu a positive experience in the care.
In another, the child, though unable to get into the pool later in her illness, talked often to her hospice worker of the pleasure of her watsu experience
For cases where trust and relaxation (or the lack of) are an issue, watsu has provided an opportunity for the child to trust, relax, and enjoy. One particular session, the mother observed from the pool deck, as I watsued her daughter, and tears ran down her face as she watched relaxation happen. The girl had a beautiful smile as she exited the pool, and thanked me.
A few recipients have been surprised and apparently embarrassed by their willingness, albeit subconscious, to let down their guard. Fortunately, they were able to experience the relaxation first, and then catch themselves. My belief is that having experienced it, they can return to that space in their mind, and enjoy it again and again.
Sometimes the parents, after observing a session for their child, wanted me to show them how to do it, where to train to learn it, and tell them more about it's origins.
In general, in my experience of providing, watsu has always generated positive results. I have observed the bodies of the people I am floating, and the reduction in tension, holding, and stiffness as the session progresses is wonderful. The resultant glow on their faces I interpret as a window to their spirit, and the brightness shining from within.