Answered Questions: Monthly News for the Disability Community

Answered Questions is a monthly resource for the Spanish language Disability Community that fills an information need. Each month, we look through the searches on our blog and through the information requests made by our patrons who speak Spanish and pick a topic that fills the largest need. Each resource mentioned below is associated with this month’s information need. We search the various Spanish language News sources and feeds throughout the month to bring you these articles. With the exception of the NIDRR Projects and Further Investigation, all the linked articles and resources are in Spanish – any that are in English will be clearly marked. This month’s question is: What are some of the cognitive benefits of recreational therapy? This edition of Answered Questions includes items that range from writing tools for people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities to table games as recreational therapy for seniors to games as facilitators of learning to apps. This edition also includes resources and research from around the world.

NIDRR Projects:
Digital Storyteller: A Cognitively Accessible Literary Compositioning Tool for Individuals with Intellectual and Other Cognitive Disabilities (H133S140091) (In English)
This project continues the design, development, and evaluation of Digital Storyteller (DST), which is a universally-designed multimedia writing tool. DST supports self-expression and document publication and preservation for individuals with intellectual and other cognitive disabilities. Specialized modules being expanded include book reports, essay, therapy journal, activity reporting, diary keeping, and storytelling. The benefits of using DST include increased self-direction, positive benefits on self-esteem, greater opportunities for participation in the general curriculum by students with intellectual disabilities, and a greater societal presence for individuals with intellectual disabilities via the Internet distribution methodologies of original content.

Recreational and leisure activity: Good therapy for seniors (Medicina Estética)
The Research Association of Toy Industries (AIJU – Spanish language acronym), also known as the Toy Research Institute, and the Institute of Biomechanics of Valencia (IBV), have presented the results of a new study that analyzes the possibilities that table games serve as a tool for improvement and prevention of the negative effects of aging. The investigation did not center itself exclusively on card games, dominoes, and bingo (which are very popular games among the geriatric population); instead, the study offered the 350 participants new table game alternatives. The researchers stated that the benefits of these leisure and recreational activities “are, principally, the improvement and maintenance of cognitive capabilities and the opportunity to begin and improve social relationships.” The investigators saw an increase in table game usage by the participants and give advice on making the games accessible.

BrainBaseline: An example of an app to help cognitive function (BrainBaseline) (In English) (This is not an endorsement. We share this information as a service to our patrons.)
BrainBaseline is one of the first iPad apps that help measure how well your brain works via a group of easy to use, interactive, and engaging assessments based on games that use multi-touch technology. These assessments use similar laboratory analyses that neuroscientists use. BrainBaseline helps you track your progress and improvements in your cognitive functions. Like the fitness tracker FitBit, BrainBaseline tracks your physical activity and sleep and, when FitBit is linked to your BrainBaseline test measures, you can learn how to improve your brain health and function.

Spinal Cord Manual (Thomas Jefferson University)
This manual is specific for people with spinal cord injury (SCI) and contains a section that defines recreation therapy as a therapy that utilizes recreational activities to work through a person’s rehabilitation objectives after SCI. The manual describes how recreation therapy helps to improve physical and cognitive objectives, promotes self-confidence, and enriches one’s quality of life.

Games as facilitators of learning: An ADHD intervention (Fundación CADAH)
Games and leisure activities help facilitate synaptogenesis, which is especially important during the first phases of cerebral development of a child. Games, recreational activities, and leisure activities help learning in all areas during a child’s development, which include memory, attention, cognition, and logical processing. For children with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, and neurodevelopmental disabilities, recreational therapy and games serve as an intervention for early cognitive issues, global cognitive function, and the risk factors of neurodevelopment of a child. The article offers recommendations on healthy games/leisure activities and interventions through games.


  • United States
    • The Therapeutic Recreation Directory (TR) is a website developed for those interested in learning more about Therapeutic Recreation and Recreational Therapy. It is an independent website that includes resources (therapy ideas, forms, and information), a shop (books, therapy promo items), job postings, and a section for professionals to connect (forum and chat). TR also includes a calendar, games, and information on associations, certification, and licensure.
  • Argentina
    • INECO provides a list of recreational therapy activities specific to people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) and head injuries. These activities can be used as one-on-one and as group activities and include activities dealing with memory, sensory stimulation, reminiscence, reading, games, cognitive stimulation, and movies. They also provide workshops on recreational therapy and how it relates to Asperger’s syndrome, epilepsy, and schizophrenia.
  • Dominican Republic
    • The Return to Happiness: Protocol and Game Manual for Leisure Therapies is a manual from the UNICEF office in the Dominican Republic on the protocols and games for the psychosocial recuperation of children, adolescents, and their families affected by natural disasters. It provides methodologies and workshop outlines that include material lists and objectives for each workshop. Each workshop and activity can be adjusted for the cognitive and physical abilities of participants and several of the workshops help with cognitive adjustment after a natural disaster.
  • Cuba
    • The Cuban Informational Portal on Sports lists the article Proposal for physical, recreational, and therapeutic activities to encourage the return of the circles of elderly grandparents from the Guitera Popular Council of the Eastern Municipality of La Habana. This article describes how physical exercise is essential to maintain and improve physical, cognitive, and emotional health and wellbeing of the elderly through the use of recreational therapeutic activities. It also lists physical, cognitive, recreational, therapeutic, and social activities that include complementary core activities, such as games, leisure and relaxation activities, dance, and low impact aerobic exercises. This activities are aimed at achieving greater integration, sociability, and autonomy in the geriatric population through their improved physical, cognitive, and emotional wellbeing.

Further Research:

Extra! Extra!
The NIDRR funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Interactive Exercise and Recreation Technologies (RecTech) (H133E120005) conducts an advanced engineering research and development program utilizing new and emerging technologies that address the physical inactivity of people with disabilities. RecTech includes projects dealing with the research, development, capacity building, and knowledge translation/dissemination focused on the promotion of healthier and more active lifestyles of people with disabilities. Visit the RecTech website to learn more about their projects, publications and more!

Extra! Extra! Extra!
If you would like more information on recreation therapy, please visit our blog. Here you will find several posts dealing with recreational therapy, including the benefits of recreational therapy and recreational activities for all ages.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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