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Therapeutic Recreation Month occurs every February and celebrates the positive impact Manitoba’s recreational therapists have on patients.

Therapeutic Recreation is a health-care profession that uses recreation as a form of intervention. As part of a team, recreation coordinators work alongside physicians and other health professionals to help patients with any kind of impairment—physical, emotional, cognitive or social—and encourage them to embrace leisure.

Taylor Owens is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist who works as a recreation coordinator at HSC. She works with patients who have spinal cord injuries, amputations and neuromuscular disorders. She says there is no ‘typical’ day on the job—which is what she loves about her line of work.

Generally, Owens meets with newly admitted patients to complete an assessment and discuss what recreational activities they would to learn or relearn. She helps patients explore specific interests like painting, art, cooking and adapted sports, which are integral to their eventual return to the community. She also facilitates community outings, with one of the most common ones being a trip to The Forks.

“What I’m trying to do is encourage patients to live their life to the fullest,” she says. “We do all kinds of things to show people adapted ways to do the activities they love and use their abilities as best they can.”

Owens primarily works out of the recreation room. It is a space where patients can relax, explore new activities or talk to each other. There are craft supplies, board games, guitar, shuffleboard and even a pool table. The pool table is often one of the first things people want to try. Owens says it can be an exercise in movement, coordination and problem-solving.

“When you’re sitting in a wheelchair the angles are different. You can’t stand up and put the power into your shot from standing. You need to figure out a new way to do it.”

Owens’ favourite part of her job is seeing the look on a patient’s face when they realize they can do something they previously did not think possible. It brings her pride that they trust her enough to share those experiences. She says there is “no other job like it.”

“I read a quote recently that ‘recreation therapy is turning the patient back into a person,’” Owens says. “We’re giving them choice, and leisure is one thing where people get to assert what they want.”

Shared Health is pleased to acknowledge our hardworking recreational coordinators during Therapeutic Recreation Month.