Since 1984, the National Therapeutic Recreation Society has been celebrating the National Therapeutic Recreation Week every second week of July. This is to highlight the importance of engaging in activities that aid in the recovery and healing of people with various forms of disabilities. It can also apply to people undergoing holistic cancer treatments and are in need of something to keep their mind off of the stress that come with being a cancer patient.
What is recreational therapy?
It is used to help patients and persons with disabilities, prescribed by medical professionals as treatment interventions and usually facilitated by a trained and certified individuals. Therapeutic recreation programs include the involvement of sports, expressive arts, muscle relaxation techniques, or even hobbies like horticulture.
Many clinical facilities and medical institutions, from hospitals to rehabilitation centers have an in-house recreational therapist who conducts personalized assessments and works with a physician in planning the recreational therapy that is best for a patient. There are individual and group-based interventions that are programmed to help patients achieve their health goals.
How Recreational Therapists Help
Recreational therapists can develop a program that can help patients cope with their disabilities and relieve whatever stress they are experiencing from the holistic cancer treatments that they are undergoing. Some recreational therapists also work in educational institutions with special needs students, using creative work as a form of healing, a way in which creating art can address various disorders.
These professionals who are trained to facilitate recreational activities as a form of therapy also provide their assessments of each patient, which will be forwarded to the physician in charge of rehabilitation and recovery.
How effective is therapeutic recreation when it comes to helping people with various disabilities? There have been two recent studies that stand as proof to its effectiveness.
Effects on Health
In a study conducted at Pennsylvania’s Meadville Medical Center, researchers have reported that recreational music making (RMM) can be a way to counter or manage the amount of stress, which largely benefits patients diagnosed with stress-related cardiovascular disease. Psychosocial stress can affect long-term cardiovascular health with serious effects on the body, from the nervous system to the atherosclerotic development, among others. Individuals with this kind of condition has been found to respond well to group music-based activities.
Based on concrete scientific evidence that they themselves tested, the researchers were able to conclude that relaxation by actively engaging in recreational music making is actually more effective than by quiet reading. It is safe to say that it is useful for clinical applications, particularly for the alleviation of stress in patients with a history of ischemic heart disease.
Effects on the Elderly
If there is a group that would benefit greatly from therapeutic recreation, it would be the seniors. There is also another study that used horticultural recreation intervention to help patients with mid- to late-stage Huntington’s disease. A group of researchers in London explored the effect of recreational therapy on the patients by having them engage in gardening activities devised by a horticulturist. The said horticulturist also worked with an occupational therapist, physiotherapist, and other members of the facility staff to ensure the effectiveness of the program.
The patients’ interest in gardening was sustained through the program, which entailed having them engage in indoor growing and using plant products in creative activities, and other group projects. The project was strongly supported by the nursing staff and the program was rated by the participants and unit staff.
Overall, they found that the program promoted creativity and self-expression, and encouraged social contact, not to mention helped achieve all of the therapeutic goals of the participants. In addition, it was also practical and inexpensive, while also helped the environment.
Using Recreation Therapy to Help Patients Cope with Cancer
Some holistic cancer treatments involve the use of recreation therapy to develop, maintain, or regain a patient’s capacity for living despite having cancer. The goal is to focus on improving or regaining their physical strength, emotional stability, and self-confidence.
Some medical institutions enlist a state-licensed or nationally-certified recreation therapist to help patients benefit from their own creativity and use it to fight cancer. Here are some of the types of the known therapies being used today:
- adapted sports
- animal-assisted therapy
- horticulture therapy
- aquatic therapy
- music therapy
- art therapy
- dance or movement therapy
- creative-writing therapy
- laughter therapy
Learn more about recreational therapy and how it can help patients undergoing holistic cancer treatments at / today.