For patients with physical difficulties who require therapy, a therapeutic recreation specialist can design activities and games and modify sports and exercises as part of a unified program. The specialist will often work and consult with doctors and physical or occupational therapists, who may already be assisting the patient to coordinate a strategy for designing physical recreation that is both safe and therapeutically challenging. For patients who receive recreation therapy for physical ailments, typically the specialist will work one on one. However, in some clinical settings, group work for patients of similar physical impairments is possible and is to be expected.
A therapeutic recreation specialist may also work with patients experiencing cognitive or reasoning deficits suffered as a result of congenital conditions, illness, injury, or age. The specialist will again work with other medical professionals, caring for these patients to help determine the capacity of the individuals and to set therapeutic goals. The specialist can engage with his or her patients and clients with games, puzzles, or animal therapy approaches.
Most clinics, hospitals, and medical professionals will only refer patients to therapeutic recreation specialists who possess the proper education and credentials. Although this field is still fairly young, licensing and certification is available. Most persons in this field will be required to have a university degree in a field related to counseling or physical therapy. Specialists in this career path typically are employed directly by hospitals, clinical facilities, or dedicated rehabilitation centers. Therapeutic recreation specialists must have a patient nature and enjoy helping and working with people of all ability levels.
Therapeutic Recreation Specialist Tasks
Prepare and submit patients' reactions and progress reports, confer with treatment team.
Instruct patients in activities and techniques designed to meet their specific physical or psychological needs.
Encourage patient with special needs and circumstances to acquire new skills and promote leisure activities.
Develop treatment plan with varied interventions based on assessment, interests and objectives of therapy.