Wheelchair Patient at a crosswalk


Recreational Therapy




Recreational therapy is a treatment service to improve functioning and independence as well as reducing or eliminating the effects of an illness. The following are goal areas of recreational therapy in individual and group treatment:

Leisure Skill Development


A comprehensive, personalized assessment is provided to determine physical and cognitive abilities necessary to pursue leisure interests. Therapy sessions include the use of adaptive equipment, activity modifications and adaptive techniques to increase a patients’ independent leisure functioning. Patients will also have the opportunity to develop new skills for future leisure pursuits. Some examples may include golf, horticulture, fishing, ceramics, and billiards.

Community Reintegration Training


Community outings are designed to assist patients in preparing for community functioning after discharge, including their knowledge of accessibility issues and problem solving skills. The Therapeutic Recreation Department owns an accessible van that is utilized specifically for community reintegration training outings and allows for more diverse outing destinations.  We proudly visit well-known Chicago locations like Navy Pier, Millennium Park, Lincoln Park Zoo as well as many local museums.

Leisure Education


Preparing for life after rehabilitation means being prepared for more than just work.  We help patients evaluate personal leisure interests as well as perception and motivation towards leisure. Specific skills for travel, sports and community activities can be addressed during group or individual treatment sessions.

  • Sports Education Series - Discussions designed to educate patients on a variety of adapted sports opportunities to increase involvement. This may include photos, videos, athlete visits and arranged outside speakers.
  • Community Resources - A structured group to address recreational resources within discharge destination to plan for patients' future community needs.
  • O'Hare Travel Training - AbilityLab’s Therapeutic Recreation Department, in conjunction with Delta Airlines, provides a group training session to O'Hare airport for a hands-on air travel training experience for people with disabilities. Discussion and problem solving with peers may include making air travel reservations, check in, what to expect at the security gate, accessible transportation to and from gates and boarding/deplaning procedures.
  • Chicago Public Transportation Travel Training - AbilityLab’s Therapeutic Recreation Department, in conjunction with Chicago Regional Transportation Authority, provides information about accessible transportation options available for people with disabilities. Participants are invited to practice entering and exiting buses, locating accessible routes and stations and RTA Accessible services and programs.
  • Relaxation Training - Learned techniques that may include guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, aroma therapy, meditation and others that may be explored to reduce stress and anxiety.

Social Functioning


The Therapeutic Recreation Department positively promotes social interaction between patients and family members. The focus is on decreasing a person's feeling of isolation by encouraging involvement in group treatment and evening/weekend recreation programming. Assistance with development of social skills and establishment of support after disability is provided.

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