Kandra Seng,
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, TBI Clinic,
Eisenhower Army Medical Center

Therapeutic Recreation is an important service for a person who has sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury. Recreational therapists work alongside the TBI clinic health care team to help service members reach their goals using a recreation/leisure approach.

A service member who has sustained a TBI may experience various lifestyle changes which may include a decrease in leisure participation, increased free time, decrease in social skills, a shift to more sedentary activities and less social activities. Experiencing these lifestyle changes can have a negative impact on life satisfaction.

Using meaningful, functional and satisfying activities and interventions to address their lifestyle changes sustained from a TBI can affect the recovery process in a positive way as it pertains to improving participation and life satisfaction.

Some of the recreational interventions offered at the clinic are leisure education, exercise for leisure, community integration outings, social skills, expressive arts, anger management and relaxation skills.

Typical outcomes of recreational therapy interventions include increasing personal awareness, increasing interpersonal or social skills, developing leisure skills, decreasing stress, decreasing depression, improving physical and mental functioning, improving physical fitness, and developing feelings of positive self-regard, self-efficacy, perceived control, pleasure and of course enjoyment. Recreational therapists work with patients one-on-one and in group settings. Families are an integral part of the rehabilitation process and they are taken into consideration when planning leisure interventions.

After graduating from the University of Florida in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in Recreation, I've had the honor to work for over two decades with a wide range of individuals requiring health services. As I've worked with adult mental health patients, individuals with developmental disabilities, children, senior adults and now TBI patients, there is one deep seated desire that has stood out with each population and that is to be respected, loved, to have purpose in life and to have a reason to smile.

My role as a recreational therapist is to assist individuals to accomplish improvements with their social, psychological, physical, mental and spiritual functioning in order to facilitate full participation in life. As a recreational therapist at Eisenhower Army Medical Center's TBI Clinic, I provide therapeutic services based on a patient's recreational interests, strengths and present lifestyle which allows them to better engage in therapy and apply these functional improvements to all areas of their lives.

The TBI Clinic team members believe in empowering our service members to actively and fully participate in their program of care. Our goal is to maximize their recovery, regain ability and nurture independence. It takes teamwork and the service member is the most important member of the team.

-- Sources