How many of you don’t feel like working out, but when you are done, you feel accomplished.
As a CTRS, I believe we are the ones that motivate patients to get up and be active, to develop a healthy life style. I conducted a survey to see what kind of activities patients are interested in; exercise was one of the results.
How can we create fitness programs? By attending a variety of classes like yoga, zumba, salsa, pilates, boot camp, walking club, line dancing, etc. How many times have we heard the sentence, if we don’t experience it, then we do not know how it feels?! By experimenting with a variety of classes we can see what works and what does not. This is what makes us a better therapist.
Going to fitness classes can help Recreational Therapy students reduce stress during school, and at the same time, it will increase their knowledge about creating programs. I wish I was aware of it during my school.
During a Therapeutic Recreation Program class, I was assigned to create a physical activity program. I looked up resources online, which is a good, however, as a professional, looking up resources in the community was much more helpful because this is what patients are looking for when they discharge, from the facility. If patients enjoy our program that we create, based on our experiences, hopefully this will give us more understanding about what types of community programs they will enjoy. Therefore, going to physical activities classes, looking for resources in the community, and finding ideas online could be the most beneficial combination to develop fitness groups.
Next time you attend a fitness class; try to put yourself in the patient’s shoes such as what did you feel? What was challenging for you? What would work better? What were possible ways to adapt the activity if you have a physical, cognitive, emotional, and/or social limitation?
Recreational therapists serve different populations. Thus, we should explore the resources we have in the facility, the patient’s goal, and their ability. Also, if it is a group setting, we cannot expect all of the patients to have the same ability. It is very important to inform patients, prior to session, that a CTRS can adapt the fitness classes to the patients’ ability. Give them the options of using a wheelchair, sitting in a chair, using the yoga mats, standing; Patients feel welcomed when a therapist believes in their abilities. Patients need our help to adapt their life to their new injury, mental status, and lifestyle, etc.
Therefore, prior to implementing a fitness session, therapists should practice the session on their own with different modifications. For example, in a case where we have high functioning patients, we are able to assign them a leadership role during a session; the patient could demonstrate some of the exercises. The goal of the high functioning patient may be social skills, and identifying 3 ways of increasing his social skills by helping others can increase his self-esteem.
For all the students, take a short break from school and work, and attend fitness classes to identify with our patients. Some of the classes are free. Let’s look for what resources are available in the community.
By: Dafna Yosef