What is Recreational Therapy?

Recreational therapy is a form of physical rehabilitation that uses recreational activity as a means to restore a patient’s ability to function independently, promote well-being, and encourage physical participation. Recreational therapists assess the physical limitations of their patients and create ways for them to participate in the recreational activities of their choosing. Throughout this page, our Michigan birth injury attorneys will discuss recreational therapy and explain its positive impacts on individuals with cerebral palsy and related birth injuries.

If your child was diagnosed with a birth injury due to medical negligence and now requires therapy, we encourage you to contact our skilled Michigan cerebral palsy attorneys today to inquire about your legal options. Our Detroit, Michigan cerebral palsy lawyers will review your case for free, determine that cause of your loved one’s injuries, and inform you of your legal options. Our legal team is available to speak with you 24/7 and, should Michigan Cerebral Palsy Attorneys take your case, you will not be charged until we win or settle in your favor. You may contact our birth injury lawyers in any of the following ways:

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Recreational Therapy and Cerebral Palsy

Because cerebral palsy treatments and therapies are so intensive and time-consuming, it is important that the child views physical and occupational therapy as productive fun and work. Children with cerebral palsy often have diminished abilities and opportunities to explore their own environments, so therapists and caregivers should provide fun and creative ways to strengthen and treat children. The implementation of age-appropriate play and adaptive games based on therapeutic exercises are important in order to get the child’s full effort and enthusiasm.

Different Forms of Recreational Therapy

Recreational therapy allows children with cerebral palsy to participate in activities and hobbies for enjoyment and for rehabilitation. We encourage you to read through the following forms of recreational therapy and discuss with your child’s physician the possibility of incorporating them into a comprehensive treatment plan.

1. Animal therapy

Animal-assisted therapy is any form of therapy that involved animals to bolster emotional, mental, social, or physical well-being. People with a disability work with animals both as companions and as means for physical fitness and rehabilitation.

  • Dolphin therapy: Swimming with dolphins is a popular form of emotional recreational therapy.
  • Equine therapy or hippotherapy: Therapeutic horseback riding improves muscle tone, range-of-motion (ROM), strength, coordination, and balance. The multidimensional swinging rhythm of a horse’s walk transfers to the child’s pelvis in a way that replicates the normal human gait. Like other forms of recreational therapy, hippotherapy also has social, cognitive, physical, and emotional benefits.

To learn more about animal assisted therapy, visit this page.

2. Sports therapy

The difficulty of physical fitness for children with cerebral palsy is a major health problem, and sports therapy is a way to support exercise in an enjoyable and pleasant way. Children can use different kinds of adaptive equipment to participate in sports like soccer, basketball and running.

3. Ski therapy

Like hippotherapy, ski therapy strengthens coordination, muscle tone, and balance in a fun and active way. A number of adaptive ski programs around Michigan are available to those with cerebral palsy.

4. Cycle therapy

When implemented as part of a regular routine, bicycle therapy is an ideal form of cerebral palsy therapy. Most therapists recommend 20-30 minutes of cycling at least twice a week.

The following are benefits of cycling therapy:

  • Restraint systems in custom bicycles allow the child to focus on the movement of cycling instead of involuntary or spastic movements.
  • Bicycle therapy improves motor function, coordination, strength, and range of motion.
  • Cycling improves fitness level and cardiovascular conditioning.
  • Cycle therapy can help the child counteract muscle deterioration and overcome specific physical disabilities.
  • Modern bicycles offer a variety of options to meet specific needs for those with cerebral palsy, and since needs vary, each child needs a different bike.

The following are examples of the assortment of bikes available to the handicapped:

  • Tricycles, or three-wheeled cycles, come with adaptive supports like self-leveling pedals and specialized handlebars for easy control.
  • Tandem bikes allow children with vision impairments to sit up front and pedal while another person in the back can control the important functions of steering, braking, and gearing.
  • Hand crank bicycles and tricycles allow children to ride without the use of their legs.
  • Custom built bikes: Many bike manufacturers will build bikes to meet the needs of the physically limited—they will accommodate varying heights, paraplegia, and other challenges.
  • Trailers are options for handicapped people of all age—a peditruck allows someone to pull a trailer with a wheelchair-bound child.
5. Aquatherapy

Water decreases body weight by 90%, allowing children with cerebral palsy to move freely without putting stress on the musculoskeletal system. Children with disabilities like cerebral palsy can exercise aerobically and anaerobically in the water, improving strength.

6. Art therapy

Recreational therapy within the arts promotes well-being and creativity in children with cerebral palsy. Artistic activities offer a creative, relaxing environment for children with disabilities to develop important emotional, cognitive, social, and physical skills.

  • Music therapy offers a relaxing, enjoyable, and creative environment in which children with cerebral palsy can rehabilitate and express themselves. Music therapy improves language, speech, and expression skills, amends fine motor skills, and boosts self-confidence and self worth.
  • Dance therapy, like music therapy, capitalizes on the opportunities for joy and creativity offered by dance. Physically, dance therapy improves muscle tone, balance, coordination, flexibility, and overall physical health. Taking part in dance therapy regimens also strengthens the child’s sense of self-expression, self-esteem, and confidence.
  • Visual art therapy allows children with cerebral palsy to explore their artistic interests and express their ideas, thoughts, frustrations, and emotions in different ways. The National Center for Biotechnology Information released a study indicating that art therapy, when coupled with speech therapy, improves the ability of children with cerebral palsy to use speech and language more coherently.
7. Play therapy

By encouraging play in a child with cerebral palsy, play therapy offers valuable and creative personal and interpersonal benefits. Play therapy promotes important emotional, psychological, and social functioning.

8. Special needs camps

Camps specialized for the handicapped give special needs kids the chance to play sports, participate in fun and creative activities, and join a community with new friends. The following are benefits of special needs camp:

  • Increased confidence and independence
  • Joy from fun activities and exercises
  • Promotion of social skills from opportunity to interact with other children and make friends
  • Positive role modeling by adults
  • Time apart from parents

What Are the Benefits of Recreational Therapy?

Recreational therapy has noteworthy physical, emotional, mental, and social benefits. Some of these benefits include:

  • Physical benefits
    • Improved physical fitness: Physical limitations make physical fitness difficult, and inactivity for children with cerebral palsy becomes a major medical problem. Recreational therapy allows children to get important exercise they may otherwise miss out on.
    • Improved balance
    • Increased range of motion and flexibility
    • Improved coordination
    • Better strength
  • Mental Benefits
    • Improved social skills: Interaction with children (with or without cerebral palsy) promotes a sense of inclusion and community.
    • Problem solving skills: When children learn to eliminate the barriers of performing one activity, they develop creative critical thinking skills that allow them to adapt to and overcome other physical limitations.
  • Emotional Benefits
    • Life balance and quality of life: The mental, physical, and social benefits of recreational therapy encourage children to become well-rounded.
    • Development of interests: Recreational therapy opens up opportunities for physically limited children to discover their passions, hobbies, and skills.
    • Promotion of self-worth, body image, and acceptance of cerebral palsy’s limitations

Legal Help for Victims of Medical Malpractice

Michigan Birth Injury Attorneys Making a Difference

The birth injury lawyers at Michigan Cerebral Palsy Attorneys have decades of experience providing legal support to the families emotionally and financially burdened by a birth injury diagnosis. You deserve to know how your loved one develop cerebral palsy and what your legal options are. Call Michigan Cerebral Palsy Attorneys toll-free at (888) 592-1857 and we will review your loved one’s case for free, determine your legal options, and answer any of your legal questions.

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  • Pachalska, M., B. Frańczuk, BD Macqueen, G. Jastrzebowska, K. Perzanowski, and K. Neldon. “Result Filters.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 01 Oct. 2014.
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