Why Recreation Therapy - Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services
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Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services

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Why Recreation Therapy

Recreation Therapy Service

 . . . Changing Lives through Recreation Therapy and Creative Arts Therapies

Veterans Health Administration is the first national healthcare system to establish Recreation Therapy as a section under the Rehabilitation Medicine Service Office and included the creative arts therapies.  The complexity and interdependence of each patient’s physiological, psychological, social, emotional, and social needs were recognized and therapeutic recreation developed into a specialized professional field.  Each of the creative arts disciplines also developed, researched, and defined the distinctions between creative arts for personal use and the therapeutic applications of those arts.

Later the Recreation Therapy "Section" was expanded to become a separate service within the VA and the old image of diversionary “fun and games” changed to one of therapy.

Veterans playing pickle ball

Why Recreation Therapy?

Recreation therapy is a health care discipline designed to provide specialized application of therapeutic activities or interventions to assist in maintaining or improving the health status, functional capabilities, promoting recovery treatment, and ultimately quality of life for Veterans with injuries, chronic illness, and disabling conditions. Recreation therapy treatment, education, and prevention or health promotion programs incorporate individualized and personalized interventions that are specifically designed to promote and reinforce healthy leisure lifestyle behaviors that will maintain or improve well-being or functioning. Recreation therapy utilizes traditional, contemporary, and state of the art technology such as tele-rehabilitation, virtual reality, assistive devices, and multi-sensory technologies to design an individualized and personalized opportunities to keep those with injuries, chronic illness, and disabling conditions active and integrated in their families and communities. Recreation therapy engages the individual, a family, a peer group, or other social groups to collaborate, cooperate, and solidify their efforts to accomplish individual and/or group goals or objectives.

Community management and reintegration enhance Veterans ability to navigate through different kinds of environments, surfaces, and settings safely.  Recreation therapist can help Veteran’s function in their communities by breaking down tasks into smaller components.  Some of the things we take for granted such as mobility, accessibility, money management, pedestrian safety, route finding etc. can be challenging.  Community management and reintegration builds confidence in the Veteran’s ability to transition back into their community and to function as independently as possible.

Recreation Therapy offers unique non-pharmacological approach to managing various components of medical or mental health issues such as behavior management, anger management, pain management, reality orientation, coping and adjustment, stress management and relaxation, and substance abuse.  Recreation therapy can also make a significant contribution to Veterans requiring Hospice and/or palliative care utilizing comfort, relaxation, and sensory activities such as music, art, light touch, aroma, reminiscing, journaling, pet visits, etc.

Evidence-Based Medicine

Recreation Therapists provide state- of-the- art and evidence-based care to Veterans and Servicemembers. VA’s provision of evidence-based medical and rehabilitation care is supported through a system-wide collaboration with Joint Commission, and Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities to achieve and maintain national accreditation for VA Acute Care and Rehabilitation Programs.

Veterans Sailing