If you’ve ever had a sports injury or needed to recover from a surgery, you’re probably familiar with physical therapy. You might even be familiar with speech or occupational therapy. There’s a fourth type of therapy though that you might not be as familiar with — recreational therapy.
Recreational therapy, or therapeutic recreation, uses recreation and activities to improve or maintain the physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and spiritual health of others. In most skilled nursing and rehabilitation communities, there is a certified recreational therapy specialist. Many of these specialists are activities directors in communities or a team member on the therapy team.
Recreational therapy is unique not only because all people can benefit from it, but also because there is a wide variety of ways to use recreational therapy. Below are four popular recreational therapies.
- Animal Therapy
One of the most popular forms of recreational therapy is animal therapy. Bringing in certified, furry friends has shown to decrease depression and anxiety in patients. In San Antonio, Texas there are many organizations that offer animal therapy and skilled nursing and rehabilitation communities that have their own therapy animals. The Enclave, for example, partners with Therapy Animals of San Antonio to bring joy to residents through canine companions. It’s been proven through studies that animal therapy lowers stress, blood pressure, and can improve cognitive capabilities; but it’s also easy to actually see the joy on people’s faces when they’re around animals.
Another form of recreational therapy is games such as chess, bingo, horseshoes, board games, and much more. The Heights on Huebner regularly hosts game nights to improve fine motor skills, cognitive skills, problem-solving skills, and increase socialization. These games are also able to adapt to high, medium, and low functioning so no one is left out.
Music is an effective form of recreational therapy for a wide variety of people. This form of therapy is especially popular among people with memory complications such as dementia. Music can also be a great way for patients to relax and get their blood pressure down after a physical therapy session, or can even get their blood pumping if the music gets them dancing. The Heights of Bulverde hosts music nights to bring residents together to socialize and decrease depression.
Last, but certainly not least for recreational therapies is gardening. Gardening not only helps improve fine motor skills but also mood and general health. Being out in the sunshine and fresh air helps increase vitamin D, improves mood, and can improve sleep. Stone Oak Care Center hosts a gardening club, which is a great way to get all the recreational therapy benefits of gardening plus socialization.
There are many other forms of recreational therapy in skilled nursing and rehabilitation communities, but these are some of the most beneficial and popular. Each one helps to improve several different areas of overall health and can be adapted to different levels of ability. If you or your loved one are looking for skilled nursing and rehabilitation communities, take the time to ask about activities and recreational therapy; it’s an important part of your health and recovery!
The Active Times
National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification