Our Role & Impact

Our Role & Impact

The Basics and Benefits of Aquatic Bodywork

Aquatic Bodywork uses the properties of water—including warmth, buoyancy and fluid movements — to help patients heal from physical, mental and other traumas and medical conditions. In the Academy’s treatment modality, the recipient is immersed in 96-degree water, where a licensed aquatic therapist supports and gently guides them through graceful, fluid movements while applying pressure to specific points on the body and lightly massaging muscles. This thoroughly stretches the spine and body while promoting a sense of peace and relaxation so complete that the recipient tends to “surrender” more and enable the body and mind to move beyond the limitations that gravity or fear would otherwise impose.

The results are often profound and immediate: Reduced stress, better sleep, the ability to think more clearly, minimized physical pain and an overall sense of well-being are just some of the powerful healing effects of warm water therapy treatment on patients suffering from a wide range of illnesses and injuries. When the same therapy is given to family members and other caregivers helping to support these patients, they report many of the same benefits, often feeling revitalized and thus better able to support their loved ones in their own recovery process.

“Wave Academy is changing lives by helping veterans come home to a welcoming and grateful country who want to help them find peace and healing after their experience of war.
I believe in the power and potential of healing through Aquatic Bodywork Therapy and I'm committed to sharing this with those who are most in need of help and might not have access to vital support without Wave Academy."
Erin O'Rourke – Former Wave Academy Board Chair

Roots of Aquatic Bodywork

Today, millions of Americans are beginning to explore complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the treatment of a wide range of physical and mental illnesses and injuries, including arthritis, Parkinson’s Disease, brain and spinal cord trauma and strokes.

One such treatment is Aquatic Bodywork, which originated in 1980 when Harold Dull, a practitioner of Zen Shiatsu, began applying key elements of the craft in 96-degree water, which he termed WATSU®*. Since then, the practice has evolved into various expressions that have shown great promise in helping individuals deal with physical, mental and spiritual challenges of every shape and size.

Leading aquatic practitioner Dave Towe founded the Wave Academy on the premise that warm water therapy has the power to heal and transform lives, and that as such, it must be better understood, more widely accepted and vastly more accessible and available to those who can benefit from treatment.

Today, Wave Academy is discovering that Aquatic Bodywork can have a particularly profound, positive impact on military personnel diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as individuals dealing with end-of-life issues. We are also finding that such therapy can benefit family members and others involved in their care. As a result, the Academy is currently focused on making Aquatic Bodywork more accessible to these populations, as well as documenting and sharing the results of such treatment.

As the Wave Academy advances its mission, we wish to acknowledge leading pioneers in the field who have made today’s successes possible. Foremost among these are the legendary men and women who created the five different and distinct applications that are combined in the Academy’s own warm water regimen. They are Harold Dull, creator of WATSU®, Theri Thomas, Aquaternatives®, Peggy Schroeder P.T. the originator of Adaptive WATSU®, Alexander George, the creator of Healing Dance® and WaterDance, developed in 1987 in Switzerland by Arjana C. Brunschwiler (psychotherapist) and Peter Schröter (psychologist).