Recreational therapy is a type of therapy that engages an individual or a group of individuals in fun activities such as music, sports, news, or bingo to enhance their functioning, independence, and well-being. Some of the benefits of recreational therapy can be applied throughout the lifespan, while some are specific to age group and to onset of disability. Some of the general benefits include adaptive recreation skills, time management education, socialization, pain management, physical conditioning and exercise activity, wheel chair training, attention, memory, perception, orientation, adjustment to disability, stress management, and community resource education.
The North Carolina Recreational Therapy Association has developed a list of recreational therapy benefits according to population (i.e.; physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, older adults, and children). Here we share a few examples of psychosocial, physical, cognitive and community reintegration benefits of recreational therapy:
- Enhance body image perceptions
- Improve gross/fine motor skills, cooperation skills, coping skills, life satisfaction, mobility, ROM, appetite, strength, locomotion, development
- Increase immune system activity, attention span, mental alertness, conversation skills, participation in age-appropriate activities
- Reduction in social anxiety, pain, blood pressure, depression, tension, reliance on medication, or sleep disturbances, friendships with peers with and without disabilities, parenting skills, bone strength
- Prevent social isolation
- Develop/maintain social skills
We looked through the NIDRR Program Data Base and found several NIDRR funded projects dealing with Recreational Therapy. Here are two examples:
- Increasing Community Participation in Adults with Schizophrenia. Project Number: H133G1301370
- Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Interactive Exercise Technologies and Exercise Physiology for People with Disabilities. Project Number: H133E120005.
We also searched REHABDATA and found over 60 articles by the NIDRR community on recreational therapy. Here is a sample:
- Community involvement, planning and coping skills: Pilot outcomes of a recreational-therapy intervention for adults with schizophrenia. NARIC Accession Number: J64661.
- Helping children with disabilities through animal-assisted therapy. NARIC Accession Number: J58654.
- Movement with meaning: A multisensory program for individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. NARIC Accession Number: R09052.
If you would like to learn more about recreational therapy, check out our FAQ on finding accessible recreational activities and read our reSearch issue on recreational therapy. You can also contact our information specialists by calling 800/346-2742, email, or chat.