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The Importance of Recreational Therapy After Brain Injury

by Grace DeMuch, CTRS, CBIS, Special Tree Recreational Therapist

February is National Therapeutic Recreation Month.   It’s not uncommon to hear the response, “What is a Recreational Therapist?”  This is the perfect time to provide an answer to that question!   ATRA (American Therapeutic Recreation Association) provides the following definition:  Therapeutic Recreation/Recreational Therapy “is a treatment service designed to restore, remediate and rehabilitate a person’s level of functioning and independence in life activities, to promote health and wellness as well as reduce or eliminate the activity limitations and restrictions to participation in life situations caused by an illness or disabling condition.”    Potential goals may be to improve motor skills, cognitive functioning, social skills, learn coping skills, improve accessibility of activities, and community re-integration. 

Therapeutic Recreation is an important service for a person who has sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury.   A person may experience various lifestyle changes which may include a decrease in leisure participation, increase in free time, loss of income, decrease in social skills which affects old friendships and establishing new ones, a shift to more sedentary activities, and less social activities.  Experiencing these changes can have a negative impact on life satisfaction.Using meaningful, functional, and satisfying activities/ interventions to address lifestyle changes and deficits sustained from a TBI can affect the recovery process in a positive way as it pertains to improving participation and life satisfaction.  Therapeutic Recreation goes hand in hand with the Special Tree approach to rehabilitation which encompasses the mind, body, heart, and spirit.