About Dr. Becker
My interest in aquatic therapy and exercise probably dates to my early childhood, when at the age of 4 I developed poliomyelitis during the epidemic of 1947. Living in Minneapolis then, I was hospitalized for a period of months under the care of Sister Elizabeth Kenny, a gifted Australian nurse who was given responsibility for all the polio patients. She was a staunch supporter of then-controversial aquatic therapy, heat and exercise, and my parents continued her regimen after my discharge. I've loved the water ever since.
Following graduation from Tulane University School of Medicine and military service, I completed residency training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Washington. I began my medical practice in Eugene OR as the founding Medical Director of the Oregon Rehabilitation Center. I began working with Nike's Olympic development program Athletics West training elite and Olympic track athletes. I became a staunch advocate of aquatics in both training and rehabilitation. The Nike coach and I began a company called SciEx, using deep water tanks for athletic injuries. I began using these for my stroke, spinal cord, occupational injury and other traditional rehab patients. I began to research the physiology of aquatic immersion and exercise finding a lot of high quality research mainly in the aerospace literature, as NASA scientists had studied human physiology during immersion as a proxy for space weightlessness. I began translating this research into the medical literature. I moved to Detroit as Medical Director of the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan and Associate Professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine. I used the Institute therapy pool with a broad range of rehab patients, and continued my professional writing on aquatic therapy. In 1998 I moved to Spokane WA to serve as Medical Director of St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute, which had a wonderful large therapy pool, resulting in more research and more publications. With the encouragement and grant funding from the National Swimming Pool Foundation, in 2005 I gegan to developthe National Aquatics and Sports Medicine Institute at Washington State University, pursuing physiologic research during aquatic activity. Until the Institute closure in February 2016, I was a Research Professor at WSU. As the Director of Health Benefit Research for the National Swimming Pool Foundation, I promoted research funding for aquatic exercise. Since 1999 I have held a clinical appointment as Clinical Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
In 1997, Dr. Andrew Cole, MD and I co-authored the textbook Comprehensive Aquatic Therapy published by Butterworth-Heinemann, which was also published in Portuguese and German. The second edition of the textbook was published in 2002. In 2011 the 3rd edition of Comprehensive Aquatic Therapy was published by Washington State University Press and was published in Chinese in 2018. I have contributed chapters on aquatic therapy in most of the leading textbooks in rehabilitation, authored aquatic research articles in numerous journals and lectured nationally and internationally in the area of aquatics over the decades since my early involvement in aquatic therapy. I have been the recipient of many awards throughout my career, including from the Aquatic Therapy and Rehabilitation Institute, Aquatics International Magazine, the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the American Physical Therapy Association Aquatic Physical Therapy Section.
As the senior principal in Aquatic Science Associates LLC, I have done extensive forensic consultation, and participated in numerous legal cases involving aquatic activity, physiology, and adverse events across the nation.
Bruce E. Becker, MD, MS
As a physiatrist (a medical specialist in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation) with a lifelong interest in aquatic therapy, I have researched, published and lectured on aquatics across the globe.
Comprehensive Aquatic Therapy, 3rd Ed.