Welcoming And Whimsical

As aquatic-therapy centers grow in response to the need for rejuvenation and social wellness, they are also growing for children with rehabilitation needs and developmental disorders.

The right ambience can make all the difference in a therapy pool.

Colorful environments and interactive water are part of a stimulating, effective, and cathartic treatment, while specific design elements are ultimately inspired by the rehabilitative needs of children.

For example, the five-story Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., includes four above-grade floors and one below-grade, where the kid-centric therapy natatorium offers a combination of planned components.

Aquatic designers created the kid-friendly, slip-resistant, uplifting therapy facility to meet the needs of young patients and their families.

The facility includes an array of kid-approved amenities, including an ergonomically designed 800-square-foot, shallow-water therapy pool, a ceiling-track patient-lift system, ramp entry, and colorful tile work.


Ambience is vital when providing a comfortable and well-balanced space based on considerations inspired to bolster children’s vigor. Since patients typically perform better in environments with daylight, the below-grade pool at the hospital includes the use of skylights and light wells to allow in natural light.

Moreover, adding illumination to steps and water features enhances aesthetic appeal and safety. A view of outdoor foliage through a wall of windows may offer a more secluded experience to be shared with Mommy Nature.

Many children fear being the center of attention in such a facility, so viewing windows with adjoining spaces may be undesirable. Parents, for example, can view their child’s therapy session directly from the pool deck.

Because children depend on those closest to them for support, 8-foot pool decks are generally accessible on all sides of the pool in a non-slip finish, allowing space for families, friends, and sometimes pets to further aid accomplishment. Decks also provide space for therapy equipment and benches, and cubbies for mobility devices, including wheelchairs and walkers.

To further increase energy, tiled walls with whimsical decorations surrounding an aquatic-therapy pool can create inspiration. This can be achieved through the use of color themes that lend an impression, such as blue and yellow for a Cape Cod theme with tile murals of sailboats; warm poppy red, cobalt blue, olive green, and golden sunflower for a Mediterranean feeling with a tile mural of waterfalls and palm trees; or a Caribbean touch with tile mosaics of tropical fish.

The hospital opted for a peach-and-blue scheme with an assortment of colorful tiles in purple, blue, green, red, and yellow to surround the wheelchair-accessible pool.

To boost the mood, ambient music from a built-in sound system can be incorporated into the children’s wellness facility, or even into the pool structure itself. Listening to relaxing music can envelop children as sound vibrations pass through the water, enabling them to feel as well as hear the music.

Appropriately themed acoustical wall and ceiling panels dramatically add appeal and versatility to the aquatic-therapy and wellness programming. Engineered of marine-grade materials, plasma flat-screens and surround-sound for DVD capabilities will withstand natatorium elements.

Aromatherapy has also been shown to psychologically enhance therapy settings for children. Soothing scents can augment the relaxation response; thus, these systems supplement the water’s natural therapeutics. Also, built-in features can dispense scents that will not adversely affect water chemistry.

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