Recreational therapy, also known as therapeutic recreation, caters to the physical and emotional well-being of individuals with chronic illnesses and disabilities by using recreation and other enjoyable activities. Recreational activities often include music, sports, crafts, arts, community outings, and spending time with pets.
How does it work?
Recreational therapy is initiated upon the recommendation of a physician. The recreational therapist assesses the patient and comes up with a treatment plan developed with input from the patient. While recreational therapy may include many fun activities, it’s not only about having fun or playing games. The activities are designed individually for each patient based on their interests and lifestyles.
Recreational therapy may also involve the patient’s family or community to create a more familiar, accommodative, and supportive environment. The therapists, also known as certified therapeutic recreation specialists (CTRSs), are certified professionals who provide such services in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings. Recreational therapy often occurs in a group setting unlike physiotherapy or occupational therapy, which normally offers individual sessions.
The aim of recreational therapy is to promote overall well-being and fitness and improve quality of life. It achieves this by maintaining or restoring physical strength, cognition, and mobility. Recreational therapists get to know each patient’s interests and motivations. Therefore, they can design appropriate recreational activities that help in regaining functional skills for recovery.
What are the benefits?
Recreational therapy can provide several benefits. These are:
- providing active care
- reducing the severity of disabilities
- developing overall skills and increase physical, social, cognitive, and emotional independence
- helping individuals identify and use support groups and resources
- developing skills that can enhance the overall quality of life
- providing cost-effective and durable interventions throughout life
How can recreational therapy help endometriosis patients?
Endometriosis is a debilitating disease in which endometrial-like starts to grow in regions outside the uterus such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, bowels, and pelvic cavity. Endometriosis results in symptoms such as painful menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), chronic pelvic pain, pain during intercourse (dyspareunia), painful urination, endo belly, fatigue, neuropathy, and personality changes. All of these can have an impact on a patient’s physical and emotional health.
Several studies have shown that recreational physical activity can have a positive impact in improving the symptoms of endometriosis. A 2003 study evaluated 77 cases of endometrioma (endometriosis in the ovaries) in women, age 18 to 39. The study found that women who have been doing frequent, high-intensity activity for two years had a 76% reduced risk of endometrioma. Similarly, a 2017 study showed a statistically significant decrease in pain intensity after eight weeks of physical exercise in 20 women, ages 26 to 32 diagnosed with mild or moderate endometriosis.
Other benefits of recreational therapy or recreational physical activity in endometriosis patients include potential anti-inflammatory activity, restoration of bone mineral density, and reduction of androgenic effects in those undergoing Danazol therapy.
Endometriosis also takes a huge toll on mental health. The delay and uncertainty in confirming a diagnosis can contribute to growing anxiety and depression. It can also make it difficult to stay motivated. Recreational interventions such as creative arts including art, dance, drama, and music can help reduce depression, especially in older adults. Such interventions can improve physical, cognitive, and emotional wellbeing.
Staying motivated is a challenge for endometriosis patients. Leisure activities customized to an individual can promote a sense of satisfaction, increase self-esteem, and reduce depression.
Points to keep in mind about recreational therapy
It is important to find the right recreational therapist who can tailor the therapy to your specific needs and interests. It is common to find certified recreational therapists associated with most hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation clinics. However, if you are seeking an independent practitioner, it is important to verify that they have a license through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC).
It is also a good idea to inquire whether your insurance plan covers the cost of undergoing recreational therapy. Recreational therapy usually takes place over several weeks. Therefore, selecting a recreational therapist who takes into account your likes and dislikes while also being empathetic to your condition can help you have a fruitful relationship with your provider. Ultimately, this can lead to tangible improvements in your overall well-being.