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Roseburg VA Health Care System


Recreation Therapy- History, Patient's Needs and VA Roseburg Healthcare System

Patient goes fishing

VA Roseburg Recreation Staff take patients out for a special day of fishing

By Department of Veterans Affairs and Excerpt Written By Karl Tanner
Thursday, May 12, 2011


Recreation Therapy-
History, Patient's Needs and VA Roseburg Healthcare System
Napoleon said that an Army marches on its stomach. That was in 1812. Finally, in 1918, the American Army recognized the fact that even well-fed soldiers may refuse to march if their morale is low. This realization created the Morale Branch of the War Department.
As one sergeant defined it, “Morale is what makes your feet do what your head knows just ain’t possible”.
The Morale Branch had only a research function then. But it laid the groundwork for what during World War II became Special Services and acquired a status equal to other services of the Army.
Special Services provided recreation, entertainment, athletics, libraries, religious services, canteens, and coordinated volunteer services.
Recreation was established as a section with the Veterans Administration, under the Rehabilitation Medicine Service Office. The complexity and interdependence of each patient’s physiological, psychological and social needs were recognized and therapeutic recreation developed into a specialized, professional field.
Later, Recreation was expanded to become a separate service with V.A., and the old image of diversionary “fun and games” changed to one of therapy. 

Karl Tanner, VARHS Recreation Assistant, talks about the VA Roseburg program:
 “Recreation Therapy at the VA Roseburg Hospital hosts several activities each day, and from time to time there are special events that involve all Roseburg staff.  We provide a balanced variety of opportunities and strength-based programming for our residents. Our department strives to be creative, dynamic, and resourceful so that our residents receive quality services and experience life to its fullest.
 Our program consists of two Certified Recreation Therapists, Bill Bailey and Marilyn Warren and I am the Therapy Assistant.  Our days are filled with interventions to improve the function of individuals with illnesses or disabling conditions. We utilize various activities as a form of active treatment to promote the independent physical, cognitive, emotional, and social functioning of persons experiencing disability as a result of trauma or disease. By enhancing current skills and facilitating the establishment of new skills for daily living, we are able to improve the quality of life for our patients.
The days are full for Recreation Therapy staff and include patient activities such as daily walks, morning exercise, coffee and conversation, brain fitness, greenhouse gardening, volunteer visits, luncheons, bingo, card games, live music, swimming, golf and various other activities and skill building programs.  We are always excited for the advent of summer season for fishing, picnics, bike riding, hikes and patient outings to view the beautiful Land of the Umpqua.  Each activity that we develop is geared for specific populations or individuals and we are very proud to serve our Honored Veteran population which includes individuals who have served from WWII up to today.  It is exciting to help people get active again by using sports, games, arts, crafts, and music to help them build confidence and get back into life.”

Why Recreation Therapy?
“We in the medical profession have done these people no service if we offer them nothing more than potassium iodide, digitalis, and a rocking chair,” said Dr. Howard Rusk, medical rehabilitation authority and founder of the Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine.
The healing process, which is the heart of the V.A. mission, goes far beyond medical technology. “Rehabilitate” means to “re-able,” to make able again. Rehabilitation involves restoration in all areas- physical, mental, social and emotional.
It is a simple fact that a recreational program designed around the patient’s needs and interests reduces the need for medication and shortens the hospital stay. Recreation addresses medical and human needs. It means much more than having a set of activity skills for spare time use. It encompasses values and attitudes.
As the availability and importance of leisure increases in today’s lifestyle, so does o its potential for waste and boredom. Hospital patients often have an abundance of leisure time to deal with. In and itself, leisure is neither good nor bad. A person’s use of it makes that determination.
The V.A. patient is first a human being and secondly ill or disabled.
The Veterans administration is the “founder” and number 1 user of the recreation therapy occupation in the federal system. It has played a major role in university degree programs.
The Veterans administration is the largest rehabilitation program under one administration in the western hemisphere.
By providing structured and unstructured therapy driven services such as various crafts and art, music, pet therapy, off site activities like bowling, picnics, swimming, fishing, wildlife safari, billiard and lunches, Therapeutic Recreation is used for:
Improving physical abilities
Building confidence
Promoting greater self reliance
Development and/or enhancement of leisure skills
Strengthened interpersonal skills
Development and/or enhancement of leisure awareness
Empowering Veterans to advocate for positive self growth and change
Enrichment and creation of a meaningful quality of life
The capacity to enjoy life and to maintain self esteem is vital to the well being of an individual particularly when recovery or adjustment is involved.  Based on core knowledge of human behavior and physiology, the goal of recreation is the creative development of an individual’s potential for self-sufficiency and enrichment.
 VA Roseburg Healthcare System Recreation staff is dedicated to the goal of recreation therapy and the heart of the VA mission, the healing process.  Each and every day they use their skills, training and planned activities to enrich the lives of our Veteran patients and re-able them toward a better quality of life.  



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