General Information about Recreational Therapy
Therapeutic Recreation is defined by the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) as a health care and human service discipline that delivers treatment services designed to restore, remediate and/or rehabilitate functional capabilities for persons with injuries, chronic illnesses and all types of disabling conditions (ATRA 1986).
Recreation therapists are standard treatment team members in rehabilitation services. Recreation therapy is listed as a rehabilitation therapy service in the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) standards. In addition, recreation therapists are designated as treatment team members (based upon need) in the acute brain injury, the post-acute brain injury, and the inpatient rehabilitation standards of the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) includes recreation therapy in the mix of treatment and rehabilitation services used to determine federal compliance in skilled nursing, rehabilitation (physical and psychiatric) and long-term care facilities. Therapeutic Recreation is specifically indicated as a Related Service under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
According to the US Department of Labor, "The rapidly growing number of older adults is expected to spur job growth for recreational therapy professionals and paraprofessionals in assisted-living facilities, adult daycare programs, and other social assistance agencies. Continued growth also is expected in community residential care facilities, as was daycare programs for individuals with disabilities."
Recreation Therapists provide recreation services in different settings to meet the individual’s needs. For example therapeutic recreation may be used to
- Improve physical abilities including muscle strength balance, coordination, flexibility, mobility and range of motion
- Build confidence and self-esteem by focusing on strengths, by developing and enhancing skills and by providing purposeful/meaningful activities
- Promote greater self-reliance which is essential to independent living and self-determination
- Enrich the quality of life by providing opportunities for creativity and self-expression
- Manage stress through activities that relax both mind and body from tension and pressures
- Strengthen interpersonal skills by encouraging individuals to join in activities that nurture social relationships and create a feeling of group acceptance
- Ease fear anger, isolation, loneliness and despair