Recreation Therapy

Clinical Services

A wide variety of patient programs and treatment groups are available through Recreation Therapy at the NIH Clinical Center.

Art of Relaxation
Patients and family members may increase their knowledge, awareness and skills in relaxation by learning relaxation techniques through educational and practical experiences, multi-modality relaxation sessions utilizing vibro-acoustic chairs or individual sessions for education or palliative care.

Personal Fitness
Fitness activities and recreation benefit patients with disabilities or illness. A recreation therapist provides a health/fitness assessment along with an individually-designed fitness plan. If warranted, activity modifications and adaptations are recommended.

Animal-Assisted Therapy
Patients may interact in a one-to-one or group situation, with a dog and trainer volunteer. The dogs are specially trained, groomed and approved by the Clinical Center veterinarian before visiting patients.

Medical Play
A specialized intervention that helps children realistically adjust to disease and treatment. It facilitates imagery and understanding of medical procedures, decreases patient anxiety through preparation, and allows children to work through fears. Medical play after surgery or medical procedures offers an opportunity to reduce traumatic experiences related to hospitalization.

Look Good, Feel Better
Women receiving cancer treatments may learn from trained cosmetologists about how to manage their unique appearance needs. Volunteer cosmetologists provide information and demonstrations in skin care and makeup techniques. They also show how to use various head coverings such as wigs, scarves and turbans. This program is sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association, the National Cosmetology Association, and Recreation Therapy at the NIH Clinical Center.

General Recreation

In addition to the above specialty programs for specific patient populations, Recreation Therapy at the NIH Clinical Center also offers general recreation programs for patients and their families.

Arts & Crafts
A multi-purpose crafts room provides the environment for patients to learn new creative skills or maintain existing leisure interests. They can make items for themselves or gifts for a loved one.

Community Reintegration Outings
Community outings enable patients to have recreational and social experiences outside the hospital setting.

Fitness Center
Fitness Center for patients and caregivers to improve or maintain physical fitness and an overall healthy lifestyle.

Playrooms are located throughout the hospital. Activities in these playrooms are comprised of three components: general drop-in programs, patient-care unit programs and highly-structured clinical programs for patients on specific research protocols. Playrooms offer the child normative developmental play that might be missing in the hospital. These experiences not only help the child adjust to, and cope with illness and treatment, but also provide support for family members.

Horticulture programs are used to promote sensory stimulation and provide opportunities for patients to participate in nature-inspired creative activities.

Other Services

Patient Library
A library is open to patients and their families and friends. Books for adults and children may be borrowed. Music cassettes, CDs and books on tape are also offered. A limited number of books in Spanish, French, Greek, Portuguese, and German are available along with some magazines in Spanish. The Washington Post and New York Times newspaper are delivered daily. Six wireless computers are available for bed-bound patients.

Art Therapy
Art therapy encourages children and adults to paint, draw or shape thoughts, feelings and emotions that are difficult to express in words.

Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is used to promote relaxation, ease stress and reduce pain through therapeutic touch.