december blog

Recreational Therapy in Action 

My visit to Brooks Rehabilitation Center in Jacksonville, Florida was AMAZING. The facility is beautiful and all of the staff were so welcoming. But by far the best aspect of my visit was getting to sit in on a co-treatment with Recreational Therapy and Speech Therapy. It was so beneficial to see how the interventions are tailored to help each client reach their goals.

Recreational Therapy is the purposeful use of recreation and activity interventions to improve a client’s functioning in the 6 domains:







The patient I got to work with was Trey* and our activity was playing Uno. If you know me personally, you know that I have an obsession with board and card games, so when Maddie, the CTRS, asked if some people would like to play, I happily joined in. The domains this intervention focused on were physical, social, cognitive, and leisure.

The physical aspect of this activity that benefited Trey was working on fine motor skills. Trey had to use his fine motor skills to pick up the cards and either place them down or draw when it was his turn. Trey had difficulty pinching his fingers together to pick up the cards. Uno allowed him to practice these fine motor skills in a safe environment and have fun at the same time.

The social aspect of the intervention was Trey interacting with not only his therapists, but also the students who were playing Uno with him. It required Trey to multitask on the game and holding appropriate and relevant conversation with his peers. These social skills are ones that will allow Trey to participate in recreation and social opportunities outside of treatment in his everyday life.

The cognitive aspects of the game were the most important for Trey. Uno required him to match cards by color and number and understand when it was appropriate to play each card. In addition, whenever draw four or draw two cards were played Trey had to count the number of cards he needed. The cognitive aspects that were most beneficial to Trey were understanding sequences and attention to task. Trey would often skip others and attempt to play cards as if it were his turn. Uno required him to keep track of whose turn was next with the added challenge of reverse cards changing the sequence. Attention to task was difficult for Trey. He would often zone out and get distracted talking about other things instead of paying attention to the game. The therapists would work on getting him to refocus his attention to the game.

Lastly, the intervention gave Trey a new game to play during his leisure time. Trey can play Uno with his parents or friends in his free time. Having Uno as a leisure opportunity allows Trey to work on his functional domains when his having fun! Uno is an enjoyable game to play in your spare time, but Trey will continue to work on his progress while playing.

It was so rewarding to see Recreational Therapy in action at Brooks Rehabilitation Center. Every time I interact with clients, I am more fired up about my future profession. Experiential learning gives me the opportunity to constantly reaffirm my passion for Recreational Therapy. I cannot wait to design interventions for my clients in the future.

*Name changed to protect client’s privacy*

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