An exploration of recreational therapy in the Veterans Health Administration polytrauma system of care


  • Morgan Ferrante, CTRS
  • Heather R. Porter, PhD, CTRS



recreational therapy, polytrauma, veterans


Polytraumatic injuries, defined as two or more injuries sustained in the same incident that affect multiple body parts or organ systems and result in physical, cognitive, psychological, or psychosocial impairments, emerged during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). These injuries are complex and require special care. In response, the US Veterans Health Administration established the polytrauma system of care (PSC) in 2005. Current research identifies recreational therapy (RT) is a primary healthcare service within the PSC; however, given its recent creation, little is known about the role and function of RT in this setting. This study explored the role and function of RT in the PSC using a Delphi design across five PSC sites in the United States, with special emphasis on RT assessments used, diagnoses seen, RT interventions applied, RT outcomes targeted, RT discharge planning processes, and team collaboration. Seven of a possible 30 recreational therapists participated yielding a 23 percent response rate. The results may serve as a springboard for identifying best practices, strengthening evidence-based practice, and advancing RT research in polytrauma care.

Author Biographies

Morgan Ferrante, CTRS

Bryn Mawr Rehab, Malvern, Pennsylvania

Heather R. Porter, PhD, CTRS

Associate Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, College of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Veterans Administration: Polytrauma/TBI system of care. 2014. Available at Accessed May 2014.

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How to Cite

Ferrante, CTRS, M., & Porter, PhD, CTRS, H. R. (2015). An exploration of recreational therapy in the Veterans Health Administration polytrauma system of care. American Journal of Recreation Therapy, 14(1), 23–34.




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