Recreation therapists and sports coordinators at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab are part of the Therapeutic Recreation (T-Rec) team, who use physical activity-based interventions to address the health, well-being, and physical and psychological needs of patients. In the process, they promote individuals’ functioning and independence in life activities.
The training to become a recreation therapist starts with bachelor’s or master’s degree programs that include requirements like anatomy, physiology, human growth and development, and abnormal psychology. Next up is field work practicums; a 560-to-680-hour clinical internship; and, finally, certification as a certified therapeutic recreation specialist (CTRS) with the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC). To maintain CTRS certification, recreation therapists are required to meet continuing education requirements on a regular basis.
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Recreation Therapists: By the Numbers
- 6: Number of members of the T-Rec team who have CTRS certification
- 11: Number of sports offered for adults and youth through our Adaptive Sports program — including golf, swimming, sled hockey, handcycling, wheelchair rugby and basketball.
- 438: Number of individuals who participated in adaptive sports through Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in 2023.
- 9,197: Number of patient recreational activities in 2023, including adaptive sports, music, art, horticultural and animal-assisted therapies.
The Leisure Readiness Scale
This intake assessment tool — which was developed by Shirley Ryan AbilityLab recreational therapists — is used to screen patients for physical, cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual functioning to promote increased independence through recreation and increased quality of life.
Common interventions include:
- Return to sports such as adaptive cycling, wheelchair sports and adaptive golf.
- Community resource education to connect patients with accessible recreation programming near where they are discharged.
- Community reintegration.
- Accessible travel training.
- Leisure skills development to promote independent participation in patients’ preferred recreation activities, as well as exploration of new, accessible recreation activities after discharge.
Adaptive Sports Days
The T-Rec team hosts regular Adaptive Sports Days, inviting patients from all different patient populations to get hands-on experience with adaptive sports equipment and learn from demonstrations of adaptive sports like wheelchair basketball, adaptive mountain biking, handcycling, boccia, golf and more. Near the flagship hospital, these monthly events are held at Lake Shore Park. For DayRehab and Outpatient sites, T-Rec hosts these events on a rotating basis.
Get Out of Town
The T-Rec team also organizes several multiday trips that bring Shirley Ryan AbilityLab patients to top recreation locations around the country. These include a summer scuba trip and trips to Colorado for adaptive mountain biking and winter skiing.