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Recreation therapy is the practice of recreational activity to improve or restore mental, physical, and emotional health. Recreational therapists organize and lead recreational activities for people of all ages with or without disabilities, injuries, or other ailments. Recreational therapists seek to revitalize people through engaging and inclusive activities.
Recreational therapy is often integrated with rehabilitation, physical therapy, and disability service programs. Recreation therapists can supplement traditional treatments by adding social support and personal enrichment. Participants are encouraged to set goals and complete small projects in order to gain confidence and develop independent skills. Recreational therapy activities may include art, music, dance, and cooking. Pet or service animal therapy allows participants to interact with animals. Some activities such as group outings, sports games, and special interest meetings aim to better connect patients with others.
Activities are implemented with consideration of patients' age, recovery progress, and physical ability. After assessing a patient, a recreational therapist will tailor a recreation program to address the patient's unique needs. A recreational therapist may introduce personalized activities such as tai chi to help a patient regain motor skills after a stroke. For patients who are facing major life changes, such as the need for a wheelchair, a recreational therapist may educate them on assistive devices and local community resources.
Recreational therapists may work with physical therapists, psychologists, physicians, and outreach organizations to provide optimal patient care.