Recreational therapy is one of the fastest-growing professions today, yet many people have never heard of the term. Recreational therapy, also referred to as therapeutic recreation, is defined as a form of treatment for persons who are physically, mentally or emotionally disabled. Differing from recreation services, recreational therapy utilizes various activities as a form of active treatment to promote the independent physical, cognitive, emotional and social functioning of disabled people, as a result of trauma or disease. Enhancing current skills and facilitating the establishment of new skills for daily living and community functioning is the part of the recreation therapy.
The many benefits of recreation and leisure have been scientifically documented. These include improved physical fitness skills, reduced stress, an improved sense of self-confidence and self-reliance, and enhanced self-esteem. While traditional therapies tend to treat illness, recreation therapy can help to develop and maintain good health. In contrast to regimented exercise program, recreation therapy focuses on activities that address a person`s physical and emotional needs. For those with chronic conditions this is especially important, since physical abilities may change.
Recreational therapy services are delivered by qualified professionals with training and education in therapeutic recreation/recreational therapy service delivery and professionally certified by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC). Recreational therapists are certified professionals who work with doctors and rehabilitation specialists to assess a person`s abilities and design a plan of activities. Activities are selected to achieve treatment goals, such as muscle strengthening or improved self-confidence, and to provide pleasure and satisfaction. Participants are encouraged to be involved in selecting the activities that bring the most enjoyment!
Recreational therapy services are delivered in a variety of settings depending on the needs of the consumer. Settings in which services are traditionally delivered include freestanding rehabilitation hospitals, rehabilitation units in general hospitals, long-term care, or skilled nursing facilities, substance abuse rehabilitation facilities, home healthcare services, and residential facilities for persons with disabilities.
For the disabled, available recreation may be very limited. However, recreation therapy can provide a wider range of leisure activities. Some programs may offer special facilities for those with disabilities, or they may train the patient and their family how to adapt the activity to their abilities. With a little planning, most recreation can be adapted to suit people of many levels of ability.
A common barrier to participate in the recreational therapy is the cost since many people with disabilities live on limited income. However, recreation therapy does not have to be expensive. Some insurance may pay for a consultation with a recreational therapist, who can design a program involving low-cost activities. Local parks and recreation departments may have recreational therapists on staff and are generally within a person`s budget. Recreation therapists provide treatment services and recreation activities to individuals with disabilities, illnesses or other such conditions. They use a variety of techniques to treat or maintain their clients` physical, mental and emotional well being. Treatments may include using arts and crafts, animals, sports, games, dance and movement, drama, music or community outings.
Recreation therapy is based upon a holistic framework that allows the focus to be on all aspects of improving an individual`s health and functioning. By providing structured and unstructured therapy driven services, recreation therapy may be used for:
Improving physical abilities
Promoting greater self reliance
Development and/or enhancement of leisure skills
Strengthened interpersonal skills
Development and/or enhancement of leisure awareness
Empowering veterans to advocate for positive self growth and change
Enrichment and creation of a meaningful, quality of life.
Recreational therapy is a component of comprehensive rehabilitation. Such comprehensive rehabilitation services have proven to be cost-effective. Recreational therapy services play a significant role in comprehensive efficient healthcare systems. Recreational therapy services are an effective means for improving the functioning, independence, and quality of life of persons with illness or disability. The provision of recreational therapy services, in concert with related disciplines such as occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy, offer the client or patient comprehensive rehabilitation services. The proper mix of services and the therapist-client relationship proves to be of maximum benefit to the consumer.
Recreational therapy plays a primary role in enhancing the quality of life and productivity of the consumer. Enjoyable activities and social relations are significant in promoting he quality of life and productivity of the individual with a disability. Recreational therapists offer individuals with disabilities the opportunity to resume normal life activities and to establish/re-establish skills for successful social integration. In addition, the therapist will employ treatment modalities which promote physical skill development, enhance feelings of well-being, foster successful experiences, facilitate continued involvement in the rehabilitation process, and establish new life activities for continued growth.