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After a brain injury, re-establishing enjoyable social and recreational activities may at first seem insignificant. However, participation in leisure activities is an important part of the recovery process, both for children and adults. Recreation can be especially meaningful for persons with brain injury who are unable to continue with work activities. This section offers suggestions for locating and accessing mainstream and alternative recreational and leisure opportunities in your community for persons with brain injury.
Assess Interests and Abilities
First, assess your interests and abilities. What recreational skills have you maintained and what has been impacted or lost? What physical, emotional, social or cognitive limitations has brain injury placed on you? Are you ready and willing to try new activities? What are you looking for – fun, friendships and/or learning? Before engaging in a new sport or physical activity that involves any risk, it is advisable to check with your physician or other appropriate medical professional such as a certified therapeutic recreation specialist.
Try to find programs that best fit your goals and match your interests and schedule. Be sure that a recreational program meets your medical, social, safety and mobility needs. Many hospitals have therapeutic recreation departments that can assess your recreational interests, skills and goals. You can talk to the hospital about getting an assessment or getting a copy of an assessment you had in the past.
Adaptive equipment is available to help you participate in certain recreational activities, from bicycling to skiing to bowling. For information about resources suited to your specific needs, call the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance at 612-378-2742 or 800-669-6442.
Integration programs provide recreational opportunities for both persons with disabilities and those without. At times, a person with a disability will be able to use modified equipment or assistance from peers to participate in integration programs. Integration promotes awareness of persons with disabilities, teaches respect for all people and increases self-esteem for all participants. Integrated activities can increase the quality of life for all people involved. A person can greatly benefit from interactions with all types of people. The Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance urges you to participate in as many integrated settings as you are able.
Parks and Recreation Departments
All community parks and recreation departments have a variety of activities and events available for both children and adults. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that all programs be accessible. Some offer therapeutic recreation or alternative leisure programs for persons with disabilities. Parks and recreation departments can be good resources for referrals to private organizations offering special recreation programs.
Many state parks will have areas that are accessible for persons with disabilities. To find out whom to call, look in the government section of your white pages telephone book. In addition, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has an extensive online resource for locating accessible recreation opportunities within the Minnesota park system called “Open the Outdoors.” Visit this web resource at www.dnr.state.mn.us/open_outdoors/index.html.
Lifelong learning opportunities are available through your local school district. Many offer programs for adults with disabilities, but all must provide access for individuals with disabilities. Contact your local school district and ask for the Community Education Department.
Social Service Organizations
Several social service organizations offer recreational programs for persons with disabilities and mainstream programs for all people. Both types of programs have advantages and disadvantages for people with brain injury.
Adult Day Programs
Constructive, therapeutic activity programs are available on an outpatient or day service basis. These programs are designed for a wide range of functional abilities and disabilities. To locate programs appropriate for your situation, call the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance at 612-378-2742 or 800-669-6442.
with disabilities. For a guide to accredited camps throughout the nation, organized by state, program type and special populations served, call the American Camping Alliance at 800-428-2267 or visit www.aca-camps.org.
Many library systems will have materials that are available in alternative formats to meet the needs of persons with disabilities. For example, most library systems now carry books on audiotape. For more information, contact your local library.
Centers for Independent Living (CILs)
Many CILs will have social programs for persons with disabilities. Click here for more information about CILs near you or visit www.macil.org.
Access Press is published monthly and is available in the Twin Cities metro area and online. The newspaper covers events, news and activities related to persons with all types of disabilities. For subscription information, or to learn where to pick up a free copy, call 651-644-2133, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.accesspress.org.
Life Pages is a Web-based information site that lists recreation and leisure opportunities both integrated and specialized for individuals with disabilities as well as the general public. The individual is able to search the site to learn what opportunities are available, as well as set up their own "Life Page." Visit their Web site at www.lifepages.org for more information.
Continue to the next section, "Support Groups."