The Importance of a Holistic Approach to Care: Recreational Therapy and Quality of Life

When we treat patients with chronic illnesses, mobility issues, or complications of aging, we need to take a holistic approach and treat the entire person. Instead of focusing only on medical interventions, we need to look at how to improve Quality of Life. One way to do that is through nonmedical therapies like Recreational Therapy.

Our virtual reality systems are excellent Recreational Therapy tools with the potential to improve medical outcomes as well as patients’ Quality of Life.

What is Quality of Life, anyway?

Quality of Life (QOL) is an important and vital metric for healthcare professionals. QOL measurements are a meaningful way to determine the impact of healthcare when a cure is impossible, as it’s the only way to measure a patient’s progress. There have been many scales to measure QOL but they tend to focus primarily on the health-related aspects. These scales are focused on functionality, symptoms, treatment side effects, and disease progression.

The currently used Quality of Life Scale (QOLS) developed during the 1970s by John Flanagan takes a whole body approach to determining the quality of a person’s life. The original scale had five domains and fifteen items with permission to edit the scale if necessary. Eventually, the concept of independence was added to the QOLS as the 16th item. The conceptual categories of the QOLS are: physical and material well-being; relations with other people; social, community, and civic activities; personal development and fulfillment; and recreation. Virtual Reality programs appeal to the recreational side of that scale in a positive manner and just may open the door to improve outcomes in other vital areas as well.

 

Recreational Therapy: it’s not just having fun!

The other name for this is Therapeutic Recreation, which hopefully better gets at the goals of recreational therapy. The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification describes Recreational Therapy as a process designed “to improve or maintain physical, cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual functioning in order to facilitate full participation in life.” This is so much more than just having fun!

The Virtual Reality systems we use can perform all of those functions by providing low impact workouts, cognitive stimulation of novel experiences, social interaction, as well as the emotional component of pure fun.

 

How does Therapeutic Virtual Reality improve QOL?

Often times the QOLS scale has to be altered for those who are paralyzed, wheelchair bound, or limited in other ways. However, virtual reality allows people to go beyond their physical capabilities and experience autonomy in a way they had before or have never experienced. This gives them a sense of freedom over their lives, which drastically improves Quality of Life. Virtual reality can also improve patient Quality of Life by keeping seniors and others with severe mobility issues engaged with the world around them. VR provides much needed sensory stimulation as well as easy,  simple workouts like walking around a virtual environment. The “fun component” is nothing to be ignored, either.

With Virtu-Well, you can experience the world around you, participate in engaging activities, and simply have fun!


Experience Virtu-Well today with a FREE 30-minute demonstration.

Sources:

http://nctrc.org/about-ncrtc/about-recreational-therapy/

http://www.apa.org/research/action/speaking-of-psychology/virtual-reality.aspx

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