Who wouldn’t choose dancing, singing or gardening over laborious exercises as an option for rehab? Sorry, it’s a trick question – in almost every rehab circumstance, you’ll need the standard physical program. However, who wouldn’t choose to at least add in some fun to their standard therapy program? This is a reality, in the form of recreational therapy. And some fun in the therapy room is coming to a facility near you.
What is recreational therapy?
As its name implies, recreational therapy involves meeting a patient’s therapeutic needs through various recreational activities. There are many goals associated with recreational therapy, and these range from psychological and emotional health to physical recovery and rehabilitation. Depending on the chosen activities, one of the goals might be to get the person functioning within the specified area of interest. The activities involved have a broad range as well, such as music, drama, gardening, playing games, socializing and more. Each patient gets a custom regimen based on her needs and proclivities after meeting with a social worker or therapist. The recreational aspect of therapy will generally be done in conjunction with the standard therapy modules, sometimes side by side, but in cases where it works, it may be done together as one unit.
What are some examples?
Card games – seniors often enjoy the low physical exertion and high mental capacity needed for card games such as bridge. The therapeutic aspect explores the strategic elements of the game and the cerebral output necessary to play, training and sharpening the brain.
Outdoor activities – the simplest level of this is going for a walk, which, for someone with limited physical abilities, offers a refreshing and stimulating experience. Going to a specific destination, such as the market or a film, gives the patient a feeling of independence and can fill a need for socialization. Beyond this, the therapist can offer a greater physically challenging program.
Arts and crafts – this can greatly enhance a person’s emotional needs and development, and studies show that people in such a program are psychologically healthier and use less medication.
Music – studies have shown repeatedly that music can improve someone’s mood. When the patient chooses the musical program, she can enter into parts of her life inspired by the chosen music and relive important emotional experiences. It can also help boost memory and concentration.
Of course, there are many other options that would work with different individuals.
The ins and outs of the program
While traditional therapy focuses on improving a patient’s functional ability, recreational therapy is a bit of an alternative path to achieve similar goals through different means. So while a conventional model gets the patient back to functionality through, let’s say, physical therapy, the recreational therapist might be able to enhance the person’s emotional state, thereby allowing the traditional therapy goals to take hold.
Recreational therapists must be certified in their area, so they have proper training in using their methodologies toward therapeutic goals and not just as an activity. Various therapists can be engaged for a patient through their facilities – Sinai has a range of therapists that can help patients with recreational therapy, increasing the results of their rehabilitation efforts.