A research study involving wounded and disabled veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in a three week-long adaptive and therapeutic recreation programs showed that “participating in outdoor sports and recreation activities assisted them in experiencing a sense of energy, vitality and enthusiasm.”(Landberg, Bennett, Smith, 2011)
Approximately 31,000 individuals were physically wounded in the OIF/OEF conflicts. Veterans returning from military service with acquired physical disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic head injury, and depression are potentially at risk of experiencing low quality of life, negative mood states, and potentially low perceived competence.
The study findings “preliminarily indicate the therapeutic potential of adaptive sport and recreation services for combat veterans in increasing perceived competence and a general sense of vigor, while reducing negative mood states such as depression, tension and anger.”
“Differences (improvements) were observed in the veterans’ overall perception of quality of life and their psychological health as a component of quality of life.” The study also “identified the unique ability of adaptive sports and recreation activities to reduce negative mood states associated with PTSD.”
Competency in sports and recreation “is one area that soldiers with acquired disabilities can experience success….further facilitating a positive self-view”, the study concluded. The authors also noted, “Previous research has identified that connecting with resources in a community is a critical component of quality of life for individuals with disabilities.”
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists with Eugene’s Adaptive Recreation program offer a variety of activities specifically for injured and disabled veterans and their families. Many are outdoor activities that are recommended by the study because they “facilitate vigor or a sense of energy, vitality, and enthusiasm” as well as presenting a “challenging atmosphere.”
Adaptive Recreation’s activities for Veterans promote camaraderie among soldiers who may have had similar combat experiences. As noted in the first article in this series about the benefits of recreation, “Social bonds are improved when families recreate together....” (1) And, "families that recreate together tend to be closer and more cohesive, and have a greater chance of staying together.”
Adaptive Recreation hopes to send a team of 10 Oregon Veterans to the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic 2013 in San Diego, CA. this September. It will offer adventure sports and outdoor recreational activities to Veterans who were recently injured. Its fundamental purpose is to provide early intervention for Veterans battling back from injury, by strengthening their bodies helping them overcome their disabilities, improve their overall well-being and sense of self-worth.
Eugene Recreation has partnered with Eugene Parks Foundation to raise the more than $10,000 needed for the trip. For more information or to make a donation, go to www.eugeneparksfoundation.org.
July is Recreation month. Tell us why you love recreation with a Facebook post, email, tweet or written note and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a $50 Recreation gift card. For details: www.eugene-or.gov/celebraterec.
Recreation: building bodies and brains while having fun playing games.