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Recreation therapists help patients adjust to everyday life

Image de deux messieurs profitant d'un match des Sénateurs d'Ottawa ensemble

Recreation therapists take patients to places like Ottawa Senators games, so they can learn about building accessibility and how to get places using ParaTranspo. February is Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Month.


What’s it like going to an Ottawa Senators game in a wheelchair? How accessible is the restaurant where you are meeting your friends? How do you get there? What’s ParaTranspo? These are all factors that recovering patients may not consider until they have to, and that’s where Therapeutic Recreation comes into play.

Recovering from illness or injury can be complex, take time and happen inside and outside the hospital. For patients at The Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre, going home is often just one step in a comprehensive recovery plan. Many must adjust to a new life, with new physical or cognitive challenges.

Recreation Therapists Cindy Des Lauriers and Caryn Johnston strive to help patients adjust to their new lives by taking them into real-life situations, such as going to a Sens game in a wheelchair using ParaTranspo.

“We take patients who are getting used to new physical or cognitive abilities into these situations, so they can adjust in a supportive and safe environment,” said Des Lauriers.

Therapeutic Recreation is part of a versatile team of health professionals at the Rehabilitation Centre. Unlike other professions, recreation therapists’ work is driven by patients’ desire to have fulfilling leisure time.

Image of therapeutic fishing

Whether it’s finding a way to cycle again, going kayaking or fishing, getting comfortable using a wheelchair at a restaurant or spending a night outside the hospital, Therapeutic Recreation plays a huge role in the often-complex recovery process of our patients.

Image of individual riding a therapeutic handcycle


“Each patient has a passion or a hobby that they looked forward to every day. We help them get back to doing those things while recovering from illness or injury,” said Johnston. “We work with patients on an individual level to find out what they loved to do before they came to the hospital and help them find ways to continue or fulfill a new passion. For example, competitive sports, gardening, painting or simply spending time in nature. It’s clear that these activities matter when it

image of gentlemen performing therapeutic kayaking

comes to a patient’s recovery and success in the future.”

Des Lauriers and Johnston also improve the quality of life for patients in the hospital. By setting up events like movie nights, community outings or therapy pet visits, they lift patients’ spirits. For example, just before Christmas, they organized a bus ride to see the Christmas lights at Wesley Clover Parks.

“The holidays are a time when patients would rather be at home with their families, and not in the hospital,” said Des Lauriers. “Anything we can do to help them feel better goes a long way in their mental wellbeing, and can further help in their recovery going forward.”

Our Therapeutic Recreation programs empower patients to feel comfortable adjusting to a change in their life. Whether it’s finding a way to cycle again, getting comfortable using a wheelchair at a restaurant or spending a night outside the hospital, Therapeutic Recreation plays a huge role in the often-complex recovery process of our patients.





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