Exciting News from the Standards of Practice Committee

The SOP committee remains focused on making the standards applicable to all settings. Two main goals for the committee at this time are the development of an educator’s tool, and the recruitment of more committee members from various practice settings.

Educator’s Project: The SOP Committee recognizes the need to make it easier to include the standards of practice in RT curriculum. For more than six months, the Educator’s project has been the main focus of our efforts. Ultimately this will translate into practice, as more and more Recreational Therapists will become comfortable implementing the standards, therefore improving the quality of care provided to our clients/participants. In order to fully develop this tool, we need input from current and past educators. Join the SOP committee this September at the Annual ATRA conference in Orlando, Florida, and be a part of this important project.

Call to join the ATRA SOP Committee: The Standards of Practice Committee is seeking committee members from all practice areas. It is vital to the success of the committee, and the profession, that the needs of all Recreational Therapists are represented in this committee. We also encourage students to join the committee, as the best way to learn is to practice. Responsibilities would include attending/presenting at the annual ATRA conference, and eventually presenting at local and regional conferences. Support and education will be provided by committee members to increase your comfort in this role.

 

Update on Abigail Peterson’s Exciting Fieldwork Experience

Hi again- it’s Abigail Peterson from Oklahoma State University. I wrote a post back in March about the work I’ve done the past year in the Child Development Lab on my campus, and I implore to check it out before reading this one! Today, I’ll be giving an update on my research/time there and a reflection on my experience.

First I’ll start with an update on how things went in the Child Development Lab. This semester I got to really take charge of what I was doing in that I felt much more comfortable in my skills. I even made a craft button snake that I used multiple times with E (this child I worked with). Below is a list of the intervention activities I chose and the purpose that they served.

Intervention- Purpose

    1. Reading a book- Pincer grasp and wrist movement
    2. Button snake- Pincer grasp and forearm movement
    3. Kinetic sand (with upper body supported by foam wedge)- Whole hand grip
    4. Play-Doh- Finger and hand strength
    5. Animal puzzle- Wrapping thumb and grasping objects
    6. Foam tangrams- Grasping objects and whole arm movement
    7. Color-coordinated peg puzzle- Grasping small objects and hand strength
    8. Mr. Potato Head- Grasping small objects and hand strength
    9. Building blocks- Object grip and full arm movement
    10. Feed the Horse game- Object grip and full arm movement
    11. Interlocking building blocks- Grasping small objects and hand strength

 

Towards the end of the semester I began to summarize my observations for a research symposiums I was participating in. The biggest thing I noticed was that E improved in her bilateral thumb movement. Many of the interventions I used focused on grip strength and finger flexibility. E had a hard time flexing her thumb and would often grip things with just her four fingers. My focus was on her wrapping her thumb around objects. By the end of the semester, E was wrapping her thumb around small to medium shaped objects with minimal prompting from me. I also noticed that E had an easier time holding her head upright whereas she used to lean forward in order to complete an activity. Finally, I noticed that E had less difficulty reaching across her body with the opposite arm than she initially did. Overall, I observed that E improved her motor functioning especially her fine motor skills.

Had I been able to work with her further, I would have loved to work more on E’s gross motor functioning as a few sessions before the end of our time I had been shown some new exercises to try. I also would have worked more on helping E to keep her head up and work on her neck strength some more also. Given the time frame that I was able to work with E, however, I feel that things went very well and that the level of improvement was acceptable.

Overall, through this experience I was able to really get a feel for what recreational therapy is and see it in action. Getting to implement interventions with a child was one of the best learning experiences I could have been given. I implore everyone to search out and attempt to participate in experiences like these because the lessons I learned weren’t something that I could have learned through a textbook or lecture. This experience is something I’ll take with me into my career and truly grew my passion for the field of recreational therapy.

My Journey to Finding My Junior Internship

By Kaley Thornton

My experience with finding my junior internship was basically a rollercoaster. Every internship site is different in the way they hire their interns, but maybe my experience can help someone when they begin to look for their first internship. There is such a thing as looking too soon, and there are questions that should be asked before accepting an internship position. These are both things I learned the hard way.

I first began looking for an internship the fall semester of my Junior year. I was on the hunt for an internship for the summer of 2017. The first thing I did differently was look out of state, rather than in state, for a site. I’m a single mother, I have rent and babysitter fees to pay, so I knew I needed to find somewhere that pays and provides housing. I used the ATRA website to find hiring internship sites, and that’s where I found three various places in the Colorado Springs area. A few of which specifically said that they provide housing and pay.

I first tried calling the hospitals, but had no luck with getting a return call. I then decided to email the Recreational Therapists on these sites personally, attaching my resume, a cover letter, and a reference list. I simply explained where I go to school and that I’m considering my internship for the following summer. After about two weeks, I heard back from two out of three sites. Both sites told me that they did have openings, but that they would have to start a contract through my school. At this point, I sent the information to my intern advisor, and he began the paperwork and communication with the sites.

After about a month, my advisor and I did not hear back from either site. I then decided to email them again, but to no avail. Christmas break came and went, and I was nervous about my internship creeping up on me. When classes began for the spring semester, I reached out to both sites, and immediately heard back from one. Throughout the month of January, we got the contract started and were getting dates finalized for my internship site. There wasn’t any interview, and they didn’t call my references, but they said that I was accepted to their hospital as an intern. I was getting pretty excited, and felt it was a good time to ask how much I would be getting paid so I could plan accordingly.

This is when I got my first major dip in my rollercoaster ride. I was informed that there had been a miscommunication about whether the internship was paid or not. On the ATRA website, this specific internship opportunity did not specify “yes” or “no” on whether they have benefits, and I had just assumed that since the other Colorado sites said yes, that this specific one did too. At this point I had to thank them for accepting me as an intern, but that I had to respectfully decline due to personal reasons.

It’s now month two into the semester, and my fellow classmates are finding their new internship sites. I was beginning to panic a little bit, but still had hope of finding the right

internship for me. My classmates and I were given an opportunity to volunteer at the annual Oklahoma Recreational Therapy Organization. I took this opportunity to hand out my resume to potential supervisors and networked with as many people as I could. This was nerve wracking for me because I’m typically very introverted. I was given several praises for being prepared, but 80% of the time it was followed with “we already have our intern hired for this summer.”

I was starting to lose hope, but my intern advisor had a connection to a hospital nearby. This specific hospital was the same field that I’m interested in and is known for being hard to get into without a recommendation. The only dilemma was that this specific site is an hour drive from my home and doesn’t pay. I went ahead and emailed this site, letting them know I was looking for my internship and sent them my information.

As I waited for a response from this internship site, I then went back to the ATRA website and looked at all the internships available. I looked for quite a while before I found Bradford Woods. The website specifically said that there’s pay and housing, and when I read the description, I fell in love with their facility. I immediately emailed the site and gave them my credentials. Afterwards, I set up a meeting with my intern advisor to discuss everything that was going on.

During our meeting, he informed me of some concerns he had for me to go to a camp setting rather than a clinical setting. We discussed pros and cons and came to the conclusion that Bradford Woods would be a great place to go for Junior internship, since it was the spitting image of what kind of career I want after school.

Bradford Woods communicated with me very quickly and I had set up a Skype interview within a week. The interview lasted about an hour long, and we discussed what the camp offers for their campers, and what my role would be as an intern at their site. The more we discussed the opportunity, the more I fell in love with it. When the interview was over, I was told that they would get back to me on their decision.

While I waited to hear back from Bradford Woods, I then emailed the hospital in Oklahoma to let them know that I found a potential other site. They were very understanding and were glad I was keeping them in the loop, although I did take a little longer to respond than I would like to admit.

After a week from my interview, Bradford Woods had asked me for my internship manual so that they could determine if they would meet all the requirements for my education. I then sent them a copy of the manual as well as my intern advisor’s information. After another week of waiting to hear back from Bradford Woods, they emailed me with a letter asking me to join their facility. After accepting, they sent me a link to the paperwork that needed to be filled out by me.

The biggest things I had to do were fill out paperwork like I would at any job with my information on it, a TB test, and a physical. I already have my CPR and First Aid training, but since Bradford Woods is in a different state, I had to be sure that mine complied with their requirements. Soon after all of that was finished, I got an email from my intern advisor letting me know that the contract was already set up and complete.

Now that I have my internship set up and I’m ready to go, I have to send my intern advisor some paperwork over my health and proof of insurance. This was a very interesting journey to say the least, but I’ve learned that I just need to take it one step at a time, and I will get there.

Recreational Therapist Interviews

Hello all! My name is Taylor Gbur and I am pursuing my Masters in Leisure Studies with an emphasis in Recreational Therapy at Oklahoma State University. This blog is reported from the perspective of Recreational Therapists via interviews in person and through emails. I tried to talk to Recreational Therapists from a variety of settings and I asked all of them the same three questions:

  1. What advice do you have for students who want to work in your area of practice?
  2. What area of professional development would you recommend that students focus on?
  3. Is there anything you wish you would have known as a student?

If you do not want to read all the individual responses below, I found some common themes from the responses. They are:

  1. Be flexible and willing to work with all kinds of populations! Also, volunteer during your studies in the area you would like to work in the future to help get your foot in the door.
  2. Work on documentation skills and use of valid assessments, improve public speaking skills, participate in conferences and stay up to date with education, and have a variety of resources and activities in your tool box.
  3. Read, read, and read some more during school so you don’t have to play catch up later! If there are any certifications or extra degrees that you can pursue then do so to help advance your career. Finally, seek all opportunities and resources available to you and get INVOLVED because that experience is going to prepare you for your future career as a Recreational Therapist!

Sarah Sands, CTRS

Oklahoma City VA Health Care System

  1. Don’t be picky! Be open to working will all different ages and populations such as mental health to rehab to geriatrics.
  2. I would like to see students focus more on development of treatment goals, specific documentation, and note taking skills.
  3. I wish I could have had the choice between mental health or rehabilitation, but when I was in school those were not options. I would say to take all the opportunities that you can.

 

Cassie Tarin, CTRS

Behavioral Health in Enid, OK

  1. Have a very open mind and don’t take things too seriously.
  2. Your internship is going to prepare you with the most resources that you will use in practice. Collect as many resources as possible. Also, going to conferences allows you to learn more to add to your practice!
  3. I wish would have read and studied more while I was in school because I had to go back and read a lot. The Facilitating Techniques book by Austin (5th edition) helped me a lot.

 

Maggie Evans, CTRS

Children’s Therapeutic Specialist

Out & About is a community-based setting that offers Therapeutic Recreation programming for Adults and Kids with Developmental Disabilities.

  1. For students wanting to work in this setting, I would give advice that to successfully work or volunteer in a community-based setting individuals should take on the mindset of flexibility and being able to adapt to change. High energy, excitement, and support take our participants to the next level and really propel individuals to want to reach their full potential(s).
  2. Next, for this setting I think a huge part of professional development would be continuing education. Keeping up with conferences, CEU credit opportunities, and other opportunities professional organizations have to offer is important for any Therapeutic Recreation student continuing into the field, especially community-based, as there could be a lot of opportunity to partner with and further relationships with the community.
  3. Third, I wish I had more opportunities as a student to attend different conferences and get a bit more of a national-wide feel into the opportunities that TR presents. A larger scale view into things I was currently learning about would have been a great tie into work and practices I would be experiencing after graduation.

 

Kory Blair, CTRS

Director of Life Enrichment, Sabal Palms Children’s Center

  1. Get your foot in the door by working with your desired population; this could be through volunteering, internships, practicums, or work-experience. Special Education classrooms and Special Olympic programs are usually in constant need of volunteers. I would also suggest looking into training courses to become Certified Nursing Assistant or Personal Care Provider. Walking into a sub-acute setting can be overwhelming, tubes and IV poles, alarms constantly sounding, specialized equipment being used, and medical jargon abounds. It’s hard to feel comfortable in an environment when there are so many unknowns. I would also suggest students get experience working with typically developing children. It’s hard to know what goals to work on if you are on unaware of developmental milestones and the various stages of child development. Reading about it in a text book is one thing, putting the knowledge you learned into practical skills requires a different set of abilities. I would also stress the need to be open minded. Jobs working as a CTRS in a pediatric setting are few and far between. I believe the 2014 NCTRC Job Analysis report said less than 12% of CTRS worked with pediatrics and or adolescents. Volunteering with organizations is a great way to get your foot in the door and provides excellent experience.
  1. Child Development, Abnormal Psychology, and Motor Learning should all be keys areas of focus. Outside of the classroom knowing lots of different games, being up on the latest cartoons, and having a bit of sports trivia in your back pocket can help prepare you to work with a variety of ages and functioning abilities.
  2. I wish I had been more familiar with Child Life, looking back I would have tried to get dual certification, or at least would have taken a few Child Life classes as there is a lot of overlap with the professions especially when working in pediatrics.

 

Jeff Dick, CTRS

Community setting focusing on individuals with developmental and physical disabilities

  1. This may sound strange but one thing I’d strongly recommend is to know your TR service delivery models. As you look at different agencies and how they serve community members with disabilities, the service models can provide you with a guide for the delivery. They are a framework to ensure that you are staying true to the field and don’t take any “shortcuts” in the delivery of services. Another recommendation is to gain as much experience with as many populations as possible in as wide a variety of settings as possible. I use the many years I spent working in traditional, clinical settings frequently in delivery of community based programming. Finally, learn what resources are in your area that provide disability specific services and community education and take advantage of those agencies to create collaborations for the benefit of your mutual clientele.
  2. That’s a tough one. I’d suggest really, really immersing yourself in all TR specific areas of education and development available. Assessment skills and knowledge of available assessments and their use (nontraditional and formal), leadership, knowledge of anatomy and physiology, technical writing, public speaking…. all of these are essential at our agency.
  3. The only thing I can think of is to really put yourself out as much as possible regarding volunteer opportunities. Really taking advantage of each opportunity that comes up, regardless of whether you think you’ll ever need it or not (you will need it someday) and really immersing yourself in each experience. Looking for ways to implement those skills you’re learning and watching how others implement them as well.

 

Julianne Herrera MS, CTRS

In Patient Rehab & HBNF

Stroke & TBI Support Group
If you have questions about IRF, please contact: julianneherreractrs@gmail.com

1.

IRF (in patient rehab facility) have a basic knowledge of the following:

  • Rehab terminology
  • FIM
  • IRF equipment/AD (assistive device) for instance RW, MSRW, PFRW, WC, Aux. Crutches, SPC, WBQC, etc.
  • Ortho/neuro/generalized debility precautions
  • Neuro VS ortho transfers & interventions

For Contract Services:

  • Calculate estimated expenses (gas, supplies, mal practice insurance, CUE etc.).
  • Set aside money for self-employment taxes.
  • Have a concrete grasp R/T time management.
  • Be FLEXABLE!
  • Have a basic knowledge of variety Psychological & Physical Dx for pediatrics, adolescents, adults, & geriatrics.
  • Have a standardized bag of “tricks” to carry in your trunk.
  • EXTREME & RIGID book keeping R/T mileage, expenses/receipts, utilities, carmaintenance, etc.
  • EXCELLENT TIME MANAGEMENT SKILLS!

2. Research R/T benefits of RT & a standardized RT assessment for IRF Px, licensure via NCTRC & state level, public speaking at conferences and para-professionals to educate what our field does VS OT, PT, ST, & Psyche.

3. Basic knowledge of the following: rehab terminology, equipment, ortho/neuro/generalized debility precautions, neuro VS ortho transfers & interventions.

Recreational Therapy Majors Club at Oklahoma State University

Hey my name is Matthew Tracy, and I am a student at Oklahoma State University (OSU)! I have gotten a great opportunity this semester to be a Recreational Therapy Majors club board member at OSU as the treasurer. When the board members and I took over the club this semester, we had goals to get the students more involved in the school, ATRA, community, and the club itself. We started to achieve these goals by attracting a large crowd for the first meeting by catering for Fuzzy’s Taco Shop.

We had guest speakers come and talk about the ATRA Student Development Committee (SDC) and how we can contribute to the annual ATRA conference in Orlando Florida this upcoming September. As the treasurer, it is part of my responsibility to keep track of our spending habits. Therefore, I am trying to save enough money so the club can pay for a few student’s trips to the ATRA conference. The appeal of free Florida trips has already caught people’s attention in becoming more involved in the club. This year has already proven to be successful and we plan on pushing the club forward in the future here at OSU.

Also for those involved or want to be involved with the SDC, don’t forget that there are many opportunities to make an impact at the annual conference this year! If you have any questions on how to get involved than email me at matthew.tracy@okstate.edu . I am running Trivia Night this year as well so if you would like to be on the task force with that, then just let me know!

Fitness groups

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

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!: New IDEA Website Feedback

All Schools Section Members,

We have an opportunity to make our voices be heard as CTRSs in the school systems.  The new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVoss, is requesting feedback regarding a new IDEA website.  See the link below to participate:

The government is seeking feedback on the IDEA’s new website. Please see: https://sites.ed.gov/osers/2017/03/department-of-education-seeks-comments-on-new-idea-website/?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

They are interested in having the following questions answered (I have provided sample answers to help generate ideas of how you may want to respond):

1. What are the resources you use most often at IDEA.ed.gov?

  • As a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) and a related service provider for individuals with special needs with IEPs, I use IDEA.ed.gov to find current information to support Therapeutic Recreation services being offered in school systems.  I most often encourage other educators, families, and students to search the related services sections of the IDEA legislation to discover that Therapeutic Recreation is a related service to which all students with special needs are entitled.

2. What additional information and/or functionality would you like to see included in the new IDEA site?

  • I would like to see a greater highlight, and as a result, advocacy for all the possible related services legally available to students with special needs in the school systems, especially Therapeutic Recreation as a related service.

3. Your title or role/designation (such as student, parent, educator, advocate, counselor, etc.), to help us gain a better understanding of who uses IDEA.ed.gov.

  • Role:  IEP Related Service Provider, Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS), Recreational Therapist

Please take this opportunity to advocate for the supportive legislation and marketing of our profession’s role in the schools!

Thank you ☺

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Heidi Hunter or Tom House at schools@atra-online.com.

Child & Adolescent Section: Open Mic Update

We recently held an open mic call on February 7, 2017 & plan to continue with additional open mics in 2017! Let us know what you’re interested in discussing for upcoming open mics by e-mailing us @ childsection@atra-online.com

During our call we discussed call for papers & walked members through an example proposal. A few tips….

  • When considering a proposal, you do not have to have the entire presentation established at time of submission.
  • You need your title, session description, 3 goals and an outline.
  • Within your outline, provide estimates length of time for covering each topic.
  • Trying to identify a topic? Think of your audience, think of what you’d like to learn about & voila! A topic might just come to you. ☺
    • What types of sessions would child & adolescent section members like to see?
      • Aromatherapy, camps, outdoor adventure, adaptive sports, leisure education

Top 3 Treatment Modalities…what do you use often or want to learn more about? A direction to head towards with evidence based practice committee involvement.

  • Animal Assisted Interventions
  • Aquatics
  • Increase strength & endurance
  • Leisure education & skills based training
  • Adapting & safely returning to community after brain injury, spinal cord injury, etc.
  • Community outings

How do YOU celebrate RT Month?

  • Lunch & Learn presentations
  • Co-treatments
  • Themes
    • Tshirts & events planned according to theme
  • E-mail blasts

Please consider joining us for the next open mic & thank you to those of you who joined us especially our surprise guests, ATRA Board Member Thea Kavanaugh & ATRA President Marilyn Radatz!

Abby Pestak & Kaylee McGuired
Co-leaders of Child & Adolescent Section