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Career Profile: Recreational Therapist

Career Profile: Recreational Therapist

Julie Hoehl, CTRS, Recreational Therapist, Clinical Center, Rehabilitation Medicine Department, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland

National Institutes of Health: Office of Science Education

I chose this career because…

I chose to become a recreational therapist because this branch of therapy deals with “the whole person.” For each patient, we assess six functional domains:
• 1. Physical – gross and fine motor skills, fatigue, strength, pain and how that impacts their leisure and lifestyle
• 2. Cognitive –mental fatigue, concentration, decision making, memory, orientation and how that impacts their leisure and lifestyle
• 3. Emotional –display of emotion, affect, mood, and frustration tolerance
• 4. Social –interaction skill, group skills, and social support
• 5. Behavioral –exercise routine, appearance, and level of involvement in treatment
• 6. Leisure and Play –leisure awareness, and leisure involvement

Education/Certification
• Bachelor of Science degree – Recreation and Leisure Services with a concentration in Therapeutic Recreation, Radford University, Radford, Virginia
• Internship with the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland
• Passed certification exam – Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialists (CTRS)
• Certification as a personal trainer

My typical work day involves…


My typical workday revolves around the patient’s and their needs. My major tasks include:

• Clinical assessments – with patient and physician to determine intervention plan
• Family-centered care – meeting with family and caregivers (consider stress and coping)
• Bedside intervention – guided bedside exercise and relaxation for patients
• Pain clinic – once-a-week clinic to reduce patient’s pain and discomfort

Intervention plans may include any of the following from me or other therapists in my section:

• Massage
• Rikki therapy
• Relaxation
• Acupuncture
• Spiritual guidance
• Exercise
• Nutritional advice
• Other activities such as crafts, games


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