In 1984, the National Therapeutic Recreation Society came up with an interesting event that residents of Cedar Rapids and elsewhere are still appreciating: National Therapeutic Recreation Week.
The annual celebration, which takes place in mid-July, is intended to encourage people to learn about these types of programs in their communities as well as highlight providers who can offer various services to everyone, from youth to people receiving hospice care.
Our team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care is excited about continuing interest in therapeutic recreation and has seen the value it can offer people for not just their physical health but their mental and emotional health.
But let’s first define what therapeutic recreation means and why we like to encourage people to learn more about it to help different areas of their lives.
What Is Therapeutic Recreation
Generally, it’s defined as a process that uses recreation and other activities as a way to help people with illnesses or various physical or mental conditions. The activities are designed to help people’s psychological health, emotional health, and begin to recover from past trauma.
Therapeutic recreation, which also can be called recreational therapy, can include everything from physical activity like walking or running for rehabilitation, to creating art, which can help express emotions that may be difficult to verbalize.
Recreational therapy programs can be used to reduce depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. They can help people improve their social abilities or cognitive abilities and build confidence that may have been lost due to earlier trauma or health problems.
From a mechanical perspective, some types of therapeutic recreation can improve or restore lost mobility. They can even provide spiritual boosts and help people begin to have an appreciation for life as well as feel comfortable with themselves.
Some programs can be created by Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists, but others can be created by others with training in different areas who are able to adapt their programs to benefit certain user groups or patients.
Some of the physical-based programs provide all sorts of benefits: not only are they designed to provide exercise and all the good things activity entails (endorphins, improved strength, flexibility, and cardio), but they can also help people feel better about their own abilities and reduce their stress levels.
Likewise, programs that focus on the arts can let people get creative, whether it’s through painting, crafting, music, writing, dance, or drama. They can learn a new medium or come back to an activity they may have enjoyed in the past that will help recapture some old good feelings. But they can also use the process to interact with others or share their personal stories through performing or fine art.
Value of Therapeutic Recreation
One of the best things that many people prize about therapeutic recreation is how it can help improve people’s quality of life and overall independence. What and how depends, of course, on what someone has experienced to get them where they are.
But since many of these programs are designed to help people, directly and indirectly, there are definitely some benefits.
For instance, people who have mobility problems can find activities to help them walk better, build up their muscles, perhaps use assistive devices like a cane or a walker. Over time, they’ll become more comfortable and able to walk better by themselves.
Learning these skills can also have other advantages. If they’re able to live by themselves, or at least with assistance from a caregiver or home health help, they won’t need to relocate to a rehabilitation center or an assisted living facility.
These types of these facilities can be a smart choice for people who may need a higher standard of care or are unable to live safely at home. They also may avoid them if they have the choice, since relocating usually involves having to move out of a secure home where you have stayed for years.
Another method to illustrate the usefulness of therapeutic recreation is the idea of board games. It seems like a simple, social, low-key activity, where a group of people sit around playing a game.
But the game, or the experience, may have been designed with other benefits in mind. Players can deal with the social challenges of playing with others and having to win or lose.
Players can also work on skill-building especially with small movements of picking up a game piece and move it around on your turn. They can also work on the basics of following directions, even if it’s simple commands to move around the game board.
Healthline.com tells us that therapeutic recreation also has the ability to provide other benefits beyond the ones that are directly sought.
For instance, people can improve their mobility or strength, and in the process improve symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Overall, for those who want to learn more about therapeutic recreation, there are some great options. Please contact us – we’ll be happy to share what we know and also connect with some programs we offer that provide this value, including art and music therapy as well general physical therapy and occupational therapy.