Meet a Recreational Therapist:  LifeWorks

Meet a Recreational Therapist: LifeWorks

(music) My name is Mary Carson. I am
a recreation therapist at the National Institutes of Health. Recreation Therapy uses recreation
and leisure activities as a way of achieving goals
for patients. It could be a functional goal, physical,
emotional, social. It could be a psychological goal, and it
ultimately is to improve their quality of life. Many of the
recreation therapists here work with people with very rare
diseases that can cause a variety of issues. We have a lot
of cancer patients, we have pediatric patients, so we’re
providing that recreational intervention within the room
or even within group activities that we provide throughout
the hospital. It’s very individualized based on
the needs of that patient. The Wii is a great intervention
because it can be adapted for so many different skill
levels. Anybody who has used it before can tell you, you can
sit down to play, you can stand up. We also will use it if
we’re working on balance with somebody. Say they’ve had a
stroke and are having trouble with their balance. We can
use it as a way of practicing that balance and get it stronger. I get to play for a living.
Even though it’s work and I have to be watching for things, and
measuring things, and writing down what the patient’s doing,
and keeping track of it all, in the long run I’m doing
recreational activities as a job. It’s pretty cool. With a recreation therapist
there is no such thing as a typical workday. I work varied
hours each day. I have to keep in mind “What time am
I coming in? What time am I leaving?” So it’s fun. I would definitely recommend
a career in recreation therapy. You can get up to your doctorate
in it. And it’s always fun. There is always room to grow,
so you get that great basic training in a bachelor’s,
and you can grow from there.

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