Recreation, group therapy integral to day program

Goal is to regain quality of life

The philosophy of the day treament program at Columbia St. David’s Medical Center is to help people regain their quality of life and participate as much as possible in the activities they enjoyed before their illness or injury. "We want to help them get back to work and make the best possible use of their time instead of sitting around and being sad," says Laura Hamilton, PhD, day program supervisor at the Austin, TX, medical center.

If a patient enjoyed outdoor activities, the recreation therapy staff help create modified ways of resuming them. For example, if a patient wants to fish and doesn’t have the flexibility, they can suggest adaptive poles with bigger grips.

The recreation therapist works closely with each discipline to plan activities patients enjoy and help them meet their therapeutic goals. For example, if patients need to practice ambulation or transferring, they can do so while playing golf or learning to do a salsa dance. One man’s goal was to be able to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding. Recreation therapy is recommended for each patient, but some aren’t interested.

The day treatment program also includes group sessions on a variety of topics:

o A brain injury education group for patients and family members provides information on the types of injuries, what kinds deficits they cause, and which areas of the brain may not be affected. "We give them as much information about themselves as possible so they can be in charge of their lives," Hamilton says.

o A memory group does problem-solving and memory-increasing tasks. Patients in a group setting often reinforce learning for each other.

o A newsletter group produces a newsletter with stories and pictures. They plan themes, write articles, and edit their own and their colleagues’ work.

o A discovery group, led by a counselor, talks about coming to terms with the losses associated with brain injury or stroke.

o A community group plans activities to help patients with therapy. For example, if they’re working on ambulation, they might plan a trip to the zoo. If they’re working on social skills, they might go to a restaurant.