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August 14, 2017

Therapeutic Recreation Outings Help Craig Grad Find His Way

For Lee Castelo, getting back out into the community following his spinal cord injury was important. Craig’s Therapeutic Recreation Program helped him find his way.

The Denver native was injured in a car accident in October 2015. While an inpatient at Craig, he participated in several Therapeutic Recreation outings, including a shopping trip, several Denver Nuggets games and a pheasant hunting trip.

Lee credits the program for giving him the confidence he needed to thrive after he was discharged.

“After your injury, if you try to do these things on your own, it feels strange,” he says. “But when you go with a group of people who are in a similar situation, it makes it much more comfortable — it’s almost like training for life outside the hospital.”

Lee grew up camping and fishing with his family, so he was excited to attend a Therapeutic Recreation Adventure Program camping and rafting trip near Cotopaxi, Colorado, during the summer of 2016. His dad attended with him.

“I think that my injury was more difficult on my family than it was for me because they didn’t know what I was going through” he says. “It was very important for me to not just get out there to go camping, but for my dad to see I was comfortable and independent enough to not need assistance.”

Lee has gone on to make multiple cross-country trips, and he’s now volunteering as a peer mentor to guide other new patients through the Craig experience.

“Being at the hospital and having people take care of you is great, but the real challenge is getting back to doing what you love and the things you want to do,” says Lee.

“Therapeutic Recreation helps you do that — there’s nothing like it.”

Statistics

1,179

patients served in FY 2016

About Therapeutic Recreation

Leisure-time activities shape our identities, give life fullness, and promote physical and mental health. Through recreational activity, the Therapeutic Recreation Program at Craig promotes overall fitness and well-being, with the goal of improving, maintaining or restoring physical strength, cognition and mobility for someone with a nervous system injury.

T-Rec specialists first learn about each patient’s recreational interests and goals. Then they work with individual patients and groups of patients to identify potential recreational resources and craft offerings that advance patients’ skill development and successful reintegration. As patients relearn their favorite activities, they also learn how to adapt equipment to meet new physical or cognitive needs. T-Rec activities incorporate key therapeutic elements acquired from other disciplines (such as sip-and-puff technology) and tailor equipment adaptations to meet individual needs. As Craig patients and their families take up these pursuits, they re-engage in life.

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