This year, National Therapeutic Recreation Week will be observed during the week of July 9th through July 15th, with the objective being to raise awareness of those programs that improve the well-being of persons having mental or physical disabilities. In Panorama City and elsewhere in the country, organizations will be holding events and staging activities designed to show just what kinds of services are available to those patients. Therapeutic recreation can do a great deal to stave off a sedentary lifestyle, and to engage individuals in meaningful activities that are also enjoyable and stimulating. Even home health care can incorporate some degree of therapeutic recreation so that seniors and other disabled individuals are able to enjoy a rewarding and satisfying lifestyle. Below, you’ll find some ways that therapeutic recreation can be put to use in order to derive more enjoyment from life.
What is therapeutic recreation?
At its heart, therapeutic recreation is a process that makes use of recreation and other activities to handle the needs of disabled persons. Its aim is to help maintain or improve the condition of any patient in the program, and it has been shown to be remarkably successful in many cases. The whole idea is to improve a person’s emotional and physical well-being to the point where they can be fully engaged in the business of life. For the most part, the services rendered come from a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS).
Some of the potential activities engaged in during therapeutic recreation include dance, sports, games, drama, music, interaction with animals, and various outings in the community. A good CTRS helps to reduce stress levels, recover fundamental cognitive and physical abilities, help the patient socialize, and build up their self-confidence. Anyone participating in a program of therapeutic recreation generally comes away with significantly improved physical and mental capabilities, as well as much more confidence in themselves.
Ways to use therapeutic recreation
There are two distinct tracks associated with therapeutic recreation, and the one used will depend on the specific type of disability suffered by the patient. For instance, if a person is in the beginning stage of dementia, activities will be designed to help make better use of the current mental abilities the patient has. The program might also instruct the patient on how to cope with the eventual disorientation and confusion that accompany dementia. For patients suffering from some kind of physical disability, for instance, a post-surgery problem, a program will be designed that strengthens the bones and muscles so the patient can return to normal, or close to it.
A really good CTRS will design a program of therapeutic recreation that will be deemed fun by the patient, so they will want to participate every day. This, of course, requires that the professional learn all about the patient, so their wants and needs can be satisfied, at the same time that they are growing stronger and healthier. Whatever the therapeutic activity might be, it is intended to increase the patient’s quality of life and to promote wellness of their physical and mental selves. Here are a few examples of activities that might be used in therapeutic recreation:
- meditating or participating in yoga
- gardening or doing work around the house
- participating in community groups and organizations
- volunteer work that engages the patient
- singing and making music with instruments
- walking in the town park or around the neighborhood
- solving puzzles or playing various games that engage the mind
- various exercises appropriate to the patient’s level of fitness.
Benefits of therapeutic recreation
Not just any form of recreation will do when trying to restore a patient’s physical or mental capabilities. The selected activities must be therapeutic in nature, meaning that they must have some positive effect on improving cognition or physical well-being. A trained CTRS will be able to match up these forms of recreation with the specific needs of a patient, and help them to improve in the area they’re deficient in. Participants in such a program generally acquire new skills in the areas of social skills, finding and using community resources, time management, coping with physical or mental deficiencies, and better overall health.
Being involved with organized activities like this invariably sparks a new level of interest in patients, and provides them with a feeling of accomplishment afterward. If socializing with others is part of the program, it might even develop friendships that last a lifetime for participants. It might be enough to overcome whatever anxiety or depression the patient was experiencing prior to the program and leave them in a much better emotional state. Most patients also develop a sense of belonging and connectedness to their friends and family, and possibly even to their surroundings. Along with physical benefits like lower blood pressure, a program of therapeutic recreation can bring a great deal more joy into the life of anyone who becomes involved with the program.