Making a Splash in Autism Research

Heart of the High Plains: Making a Splash in Autism ResearchCopyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Turn Center Executive Director, Bruce Moseley, and Director of Physical Therapy, Treva McKinney, presented at the American Physical Therapy Association National Conference, attended by more than 11,000 physical therapists in New Orleans on February 23, 2018. 

The APTA selected Moseley and McKinney for the groundbreaking clinical trial research on the benefits of aquatic therapy for children with autism. The study is the first of its kind nationally and, moving forward, will be cited as an industry standard.  

Initiated by Turn Center’s Medical Advisory Board, the study was sponsored by Amarillo native Dr. Sloan Rush and conducted at Turn Center, the only non-profit in the Texas Panhandle offering pediatric physical, occupational, and speech-language/feeding therapy.

Turn Center began offering aquatic therapy in early 2017, with the opening of the pool.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is increasing dramatically in prevalence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 68 children was diagnosed with ASD in 2010. 

Aquatic therapy is used traditionally as a treatment for children with disabilities and motor delays. Surprisingly, there have only been four studies ever published over aquatic therapy for ASD. 

Turn Center currently treats 83 children who have been diagnosed with ASD or related developmental disorder.

Turn Center’s Medical Advisory Board, comprised of physicians and other medical specialists, initiated the clinical trial research study to compare the efficacy of one-on-one versus group-based aquatic therapy programs. Turn Center received initial Institutional Review Board approval from SalusIRB for the study on June 15, 2017, which was published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health on (

 As of February 27, 2018, the study is the only current clinical trial in the United States on aquatic therapy and ASD and the only prospective study on this topic.

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