Our world is immersed in a pain crisis, and many patients are referred for aquatic physical therapy to address issues related to acute and chronic pain. Leading research pioneers in pain science stress the need to assess and change our patients’ cognitions, beliefs and fears BEFORE launching into a movement-based approach to rehabilitation. This webinar will provide an introduction to Pain Neuroscience Education (PNE) and demonstrate how to incorporate PNE concepts into aquatic therapy sessions; differentiate “tissue issues” from “pain issues”; and how to invite patients to begin the conversation to share their pain experience. Participants will be introduced to current research as well as discover opportunities for more in-depth PNE education and training.

Meet our Speakers

Cathy Malone-Hills, PT, DPT, TPS is a physical therapist, lead aquatic therapist for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute/Allina Health in Minneapolis, and a therapeutic pain specialist. She has developed community, fitness, and therapy programs and presented national and international courses and training for physical therapists, students, and fitness professionals. Maloney-Hills is coinvestigator and author of The Golden Waves® Functional Water Training for Health program for older adults, and coauthor of YMCA Water Fitness for Health as well as author of numerous book chapters and articles. She completed proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation training and orthopedic manual therapy programs.

Sonja McGill, PT is a physical therapist and is certified in adult neuro-developmental treatment, Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) Big, ACSM exercise physiologist, therapeutic pain specialist, and credentialed clinical instructor level 2. She provides aquatic physical therapy interventions for clients with neurologic and orthopedic conditions at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute/Allina Health in Stillwater, Minnesota. McGill works with the chronic pain team at her facility, participates in aquatic/fitness program development, serves as a clinical instructor, and is a team leader within her department.

Course Code:


Completion Instructions

Review pre-recorded content; compile and submit questions (if appropriate); attend live Q and A; complete assessment with 70% score or higher; submit course evaluation.

Course level


Delivery method



Cathy Malone-Hills, PT, DPT, TPS; Sonja McGill, PT

Learning objectives

  • Describe key questions every patient in pain wants to know.
  • Identify “red flags” and “yellow flags” seen in patients with back pain.
  • Discuss areas of the brain involved in the pain neurosignature and their role in a person’s pain response.
  • Differentiate “tissue issue” from “pain issue”.
  • Examine phrases that invite patients to share their pain experience.
  • Identify primary treatment strategies (“pillars”) providers can use to calm a patient’s nervous system.
  • Define strategies that promote patients’ understanding of the biological nature of their problem.
  • Deliberate the unique advantages of the thermodynamic properties of water and physiological effects of immersion on treatment effectiveness for patients in pain.
  • Demonstrate how to incorporate PNE strategies into aquatic physical therapy sessions.


Academy of Aquatic Physical Therapy

Brought to you by


1Aquatic Webinar Recording Maloney-Hills (Fenos x 8532)_143_0.mp4
2Assessment_Navigating Pain
Type:E-Learning Course
Credit Categories
Domains:pain, aquatics, Sonja McGill, Cathy Malone-Hills

The following credits are available upon completion of these activities.

Total credits:  0.2
Key Dates
The learning activity is not active