RT Blog

Location: Indiana, United States

I became a Professor Emeritus after serving 29 years as a recreational therapy faculty member at Indiana University. I'm a long-time Hoosier, having grown up in Hanover, Indiana. My RT practitioner work was in psych/mental health. After completing my Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, my first faculty position was at the University of North Texas. RT has been a wonderful profession for me as I have had the opportunity to serve as an author and national leader.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

National Children's MH Awareness Day

Tuesday May 3rd has been proclaimed "National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day."

Friday, April 29, 2011

Obesity and Arthritis

Another obesity article has been published -- this one points out that among adults who have arthritis the prevalence of obesity increased significantly between 2003 and 2009.

There have been so many articles on obesity as a problem for older people and people with disabilities that it seems to me that RT as a profession needs to take action to address the problem of obesity. What say you?

The article I read was from MedPage Today on April 28th. The primary source of the article was Mobidity and Mortality Weekly Report , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Pprvalence of obesity among adults with arthritis-- United States, 2003-2009," 2011, Vol. 60, pp. 509-513.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Recreation Therapy Video Counts

The Indiana University Library recently sent me usage counts for the Recreation Therapy Videos. Unfortunately, due to a malfunction, counts were not available for the past few months. The data supplied were for June, 2009, to December of 2010. While incomplete, the counts provide a sense of which RTV videos are getting the most play.

Here are the “Top 10” usage counts:
“To Serve a Purpose” – 548
“Therapeutic Recreation History: The Modern Era” – 565
“Transfer Techniques” – 548
“Effective Listening” – 522
“Therapeutic Recreation History: The Formative Years” – 486
“Adaptive Equipment” – 381
“Case Studies” – 216
“Models of Practice: Health Protection/Health Promotion Model – 214
“Models of Practice: Leisure Ability Model” – 189
“Documentation and Behavioral Observation” – 185

It was no surprise that “To Serve a Purpose” lead the list. This video provides an introduction to recreational therapy/therapeutic recreation. I am pleased and puzzled that two of the history videos were in the top 5 in usage. I am pleased because it shows history is a topic of interest. But I am puzzled that the “History of Therapeutic Recreation: Parts I. II, III” did not receive more hits (It got 179) –as it provides the complete history of RT/TR and is one of the best videos in the series.

I am happy that many individuals (probably mostly students) are viewing the RTV videos. Students have mentioned to me that their instructors have had them view RTV videos both in class and as a homework assignment. Of course, those of us who worked on the RTV project would like even more viewers to take advantage of the RTV videos –so please do encourage their use.

Remember any of the 23 RTV videos may be viewed via streaming at no cost. Access to them is a free service of the Indiana University Library. To watch any of the RTV videos go to: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/handle/2022/3378

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Live Well! It's Essential for Your Potential"

One of the themes for Mental Health Month (in May) is "Live Well! It's Essential for Your Potential."

What a great phrase for RTs! To me, it really captures what we are all about. Perhaps we can borrow the phrase for RT Month in 2012. What do you think?

Tai Chi Boosts Quality of Life in Heart Failure

A study reported in MedPage Today found patients with heart failure may experience improvements in their quality of life and mood by taking part in a tai chi program. Researchers postulated that tai chi could be particularly helpful for frail elderly patients with debilitating heart failure.

The study was published in volume 171, pp. 750-757 of the Archives of Internal Medicine. G. Yeh is the lead author.

May is Mental Health Month

I took the following from the Mental Health America website at http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/may

Mental Health America is proud to continue its tradition of celebrating "May is Mental Health Month," which began in 1949 to raise awareness of mental health conditions and mental wellness for all.

This year, we are addressing these important issues through two themes:

Do More for 1 in 4 is a call to action to help the 1 in 4 American adults who live with a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition and the fact that they can go on to live full and productive lives. (You can download 11 X 17 inch poster from the website.)

The second theme, Live Well! It's Essential for Your Potential, focuses on the importance of mental wellness and the steps everyone can take to improve their well-being and resiliency in the face of difficult times and challenges. Mental Health America's Live Your Life Well program offers ten science-based tools to manage stress and help you relax, grow and flourish. (Download an 11 X 17 inch poster from the website.)

Monday, April 25, 2011

IU's McCormick & Van Puymbroeck Promoted

I am pleased to report that Bryan McCormick has been promoted to (full) Professor and Marieke Van Puymbroeck has been promoted to Associate Professor (with tenure) at Indiana University Bloomington. IU is indeed fortunate to have such fine RT faculty! Congratulations Bryan and Marieke!

Very Obese Teens Take Bigger Risks

In MedPage Today there is a report on extremely obese teens. It seems they are more prone to engage in risky behaviors (e.g., drinking, being sexually active, and smoking). Very obese teen girls were found to engage in the most risky behaviors, such as drinking and being sexually active. Studies have found girls to engage in sex before age 13, having multiple sexual partners, and not using contraceptives.

The current study also found a prevalence of cigarette smoking among both girls and boys. The researchers wrote: "Obese adolescents are already at greater risk for the development of additional chronic health conditions, the likes of which may be exacerbated by cigarette smoking, resulting in compound health risk."

The report went on to say: "The message of this study for pediatricians is that they need ot talk to all teens -- even those who are very obese and apparently socially isolated -- about sex, drugs, and alcohol, as well as other psychological concerns."

I thought this information would be helpful to RTs working with teens -- especially those who are very obese. The source for the report was research in Pediatrics published in volume 127, pages 827-834, in 2011. M. Ratcliff is the lead author.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

How to Post to Syllabus Clearinghouse

From Elizabeth Hall Weybright MS, CTRS, via the ATRAnet Listserv comes the following message on how to post syllabi on the syllabus clearinghouse:

After reading Dr. Austin's comment about a syllabus clearinghouse, I created a google document collection where we could upload and download syllabi. While I don't think this is an ideal solution, it might be a start. Please note that anyone with this link will be able to add/edit/remove documents from this folder (although I don't think these documents are 'searchable' in google), so a pdf version might be preferable. If there are suggestions for better ways to share syllabi in a more secured manner, I'd be happy to hear them.

If you click on the link below, there are instructions for uploading documents to the site. I would also be willing to upload documents for you if you prefer.


Have a good weekend,

p.s. The web address is so long that I've had to break it into 3 parts.DRA

Friday, April 22, 2011

On the Process of Writing

I have been working on a manuscript with its focus on the application of theory to practice. In doing so, I have reformulated my Health Protection/Health Promotion Model to include coping adaptively with chronic illnesses and disabilities -- in addition to helping clients to restore health or enhance their levels of health.

This experience lead me to think about the value of writng in clarifying our thinking. When I write something new (even if it is about a familiar topic)the exercise of writing forces me to think beyond the limits of thoughts I had earlier in my thought processes.

I hope to share the reformation of my Health Protection/Health Promotion Model with RTs at the Therapeutic Recreation Ontario Conference in June and later publish the new version of my model.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Video Games & Stroke Rehab

From Bloomberg Businessweek comes a story "Video Games Might Aid in Stroke Rehab," published April 7, 2011. Virtual reality activities appear to help patients improve arm strength and function, according to the research reported on.

The web address for the story is http://www.businessweek.com/print/lifestyle/content/healthday/651738.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

OT Month is April, What about RT Month?

I just read that April is Occupational Therapy Month. It reminded me that I had suggested that Canada and the U.S. join together to hold an RT Week or RT Month sometime during the academic year -- perhaps February (I believe February is when Canada holds its celebration.).

Following my suggestion there was a great deal of discussion on the ATRAnet with lots of good ideas about how we should proceed with an RT Week or RT Month. It sticks in my mind that ATRA was to conduct a survey of our membership to obtain input.

But I can't recall seeing any follow-up. Did I miss something?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pre-registration Date Estended for FL Conference

From Allyson Dedic, CTRS, comes this announcemet:

Just like the government, we are extending dates!! Due to MANY requests, we will extend the early registration deadline ONE WEEK. All registrations MUST be postmarked BY APRIL 22, 2011.

Again, the conference is 3 days in Ft. Lauderdale, FL May 18-20, 2011 for $100. Hotel rooms are quickly going, so if you are planning on staying at the Embassy Suites, make your reservations SOON!

Visit www.whitehallboca.com/conference.html for more details! It is going to be a fantastic event!

Allyson Dedic, CTRS
Director of Therapeutic Recreation
Whitehall Boca Raton
7300 Del Prado Circle South
Boca Raton, FL 33433
(561) 237-3818 direct
(561) 392-6031 fax

Friday, April 15, 2011

Site Established for Sharing of RT Syllabi

After posting today's RT Blog post on ATRAnet, Elizabeth Hall Weybright, M.S., CTRS, responded with a generous offer to furnish a site to share syllabi. I sure hope folks take advantage. Her message follows:

Dr. Austin,
I'd be happy to set up a google collection or file as a place to hold these syllabi. I'm still getting used to google documents, so hopefully this works. I've added one syllabus already. It's probably not the most ideal solution, but it could be a good start. Here is the link to the folder. Anyone with this link will be able to add/edit/remove from this folder and the link is open to the public.



(p.s. I've had to divide up the address into 3 parts because it wouldn't fit on the post otherwise.)

Syllabus Clearinghouse for RT?

Not too long ago I read an article in Counselor Today Online titled “A stockpile of counselor education knowledge” by Jenny Christenson. The article talked about a new Counselor Syllabus Clearinghouse to collect syllabi from counseling faculty from across the nation. The Clearinghouse offers an online library to share information on teaching counseling courses.

I was reminded of an RT Blog post of mine on May 6, 2007, in which I had suggested RT profs share syllabi. I suggested that such sharing might not only help to revise courses but might lead to greater standardization of curricula.

I guess I wasn’t very persuasive or not too many read the post because, as far as I know, we really do not have a Recreational Therapy Syllabus Clearinghouse. Don’t you think it is time to establish one?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Resources on Alzehimer's Students Might Find Useful

I ran across a couple of online sources that perhaps could be of benefit to RT students learning about serving persons with Alzehimer's.

One was from the Alzeimer's Association on conducting activities for persons with Alzeimer's. Go to http://www.alz.org/living_with_alzheimers_activities,asp

The other resource is titled Caring for a Person with Alzheimer's Disease: Your Easy-to-Use Guide from the National Institute on Aging. It is available from the National Institute on Aging within the National Insitute of Health.

Low Intensity Workout Benefits Parkinson's Patients

MedPage today had a brief article titled "Walking Beats Regorous Exercise for Parkinson's." A poster session presented premiminary data from a study that of patients with Parkinson's disease showed that those doing low-intgensity workouts improved their six-minute walk distance significantly, in contrast to those who die a more vigorous workout.

The researcher caustioned this was a small, preliminary study. She stated: "I tell my patients just move 30 minutes a day -- dance, take yoga, take tai chi, walk, bike -- whatever it is."

It seems to me I keep seeing more and more information on the value of physical activity for those with Parkinson's disease.

CARTE Information Now Online

From Thom Skalko via the ATRAnet comes this announcement:

The Committee on Accreditation of Recreational Therapy Education (CARTE), a COA of the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) has posted materials needed to assist colleges and universities interested in recreational therapy education accreditation. At the below link, you will find specific information on CARTE, Procedures Manual for CARTE Accreditation, and all the necessary forms to initiate accreditation with CAAHEP-CARTE. Please go to: http://www.caahep.org/carte

If you have questions, please feel free to contact us. To make application for accreditation services, please go to: http://www.caahep.org/Content.aspx?ID=11

The CARTE Board is ready to serve you. Also note that visitor training was completed at the ATRA Mid-Year in Providence. A second CARTE Visitor Training Program will be offered at the ATRA Annual in Indianapolis, IN this fall.

We look forward to working with all of you.

Thomas K. Skalko, Ph.D., LRT/CTRS
East Carolina University
College of Health and Human Performance
Belk 1409
Greenville, NC 27858-4353

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Nancy's Response to Danny's Message Helpful

Nancy Navar, on ATRAnet in responding to Danny Pettry's plan to use RTV videos in an in-service training program for noncertified staff at his facility, gave some helpful information that I'd like to pass along in this post.

Nancy mentioned that Patty Thomas at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee has an online certification program designed for noncertified staff. In the back of my mind it seems I recall hearing about Patty's program. I appreciate Nancy reminding all of us about it.

I should also remind folks that all 23 RTV videos are available via streaming from the Indiana University Library at https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/handle/2022/3378

New Issue of TRJ Now Out

Yesterday I saw an announcement from Doug Sanders on Facebook that the 1st quarter, 2011 issue of the Therapeutic Recreation Journal is now out. Sagamore Publishing has taken over TRJ and Marcia Carter is now the editor.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

South Florida Conference Reminder

From the ATRAnet Listserv comes this reminder from Allyson Dedic, CTRS:

Just a reminder that the conference is quickly approaching!! The dates again are May 18-20, 2011 at the Embassy Suites in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

The cost is ONLY $100 for ALL 3 DAYS and discounted rates for students!

You can receive up to 18 hours of education!!

There will be a networking social and vendor exhibit with great food, lots of prizes, and wonderful company May 19, 2011!

Feel free to call or email me with any questions!

Allyson Dedic, CTRS
Director of Therapeutic Recreation
Whitehall Boca Raton
7300 Del Prado Circle South
Boca Raton, FL 33433
(561) 237-3818 direct
(561) 392-6031 fax

More on "Retail Therapy"

A couple of days ago, I promised to try to find more information on the study on "retail therapy." Unfortunately, I still have not been able to access the "retail therapy" research article in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. I was however able to find a US News and World Report story from which I can pass along some information.

The study was done wtih around 2,000 Taiwanese people over 65. Findings showed edlerly people who shop regularly live longer than those who do not shop regularly. Surprisingly, men seemed to benefit from the shopping more than women. The findings were attributed to the frequent shoppers getting more physical activity in the form of walking. Additionally, shopping provided an enjoyable activity that helped shoppers experience companionship and feel included in their community. It was also mentioned that frequent shopping for food may have brought about better nutrition.

If I can ever find the JECH article, I'll try to pass on more detail on the study -- but from what is known about the study now it appears that "retail therapy" may become an intervention to be used by RTs!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Alzheimer's Cafes

In the April AARP Bulletin I just read about Alzheimer's cafe being established in Nova Scotia, Canada's first. Evidently Alzheimer's cafes have been in the Netherlands for 14 years. They also are in the United Kingdom and one is in Santa Fe, NM.The cafes provide safe supportive places for those with Alzheimer's disease, caregivers, and loved ones to share experiences and talk.

The Alzheimer's cafes seem like a great idea. Perhaps some RTs will become involved in establishing such cafes. I think that would be a very good thing.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Retail Therapy Study

Did you read accounts of a study recetnly published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health on the value of "retail therapy" with people who are elderly? Daily shopping trips seem to bring positive health benefits including prolonged survival. Researchers speculated that frequent shopping increased walking and this may have contributed to the results. If I can learn more about the study, I'll share the information on the RT Blog.

Friday, April 08, 2011

So Nova Scotia has Internships Too, eh Jerry

Yesterday I was one of several who received an email from my friend Professor Jerry Singleton of Dalhusie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Jerry's message was prompted by my previous message encouraging internships in Newfoudland -- a place where I had enjoyed a wonderful visit. Here is part of what was in his message:

Hi Everyone,

Nova Scotia also has intern opportunities. I would refer everyone to the Therapeutic Recreation Association of Atlantic Canada and the Newfoundland and Labrador Therapeutic Recreation Association web pages.

If you have not heard the Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association and the British Columbia Therapeutic Recreation association are hosting the CTRA conference in Whistler BC in May 25 to 27. Go to
http://www.bctra.org/ctra_conference_2011 and consider joining us in BC.

Have fun today.


Thursday, April 07, 2011

Today is World Health Day

The World Health Organization (WHO) has proclaimed today to be World Health Day. World Health Day is celebrated every year on April 7th. Each year WHO selects a different theme. This year's theme is "Antimicrobial resistence and its global spread."

Students & Faculty -- Newfoundland is Wonderful!

Yesterday's post on student internship opportunities in Newfoundland brought to mind a really great personal experience. It was my honor to give the keynote address for the Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association Conference in May of 2008. It so happened the CTRS Conference was held in St. John's, Newfoundland.

I fell in love with the people and place of Newfoundland. The people are warm and friendly and I found the city of St. John's to be a terrific place to visit. And the RTs from Newfoundland that I met were extremely energetic about our profession.

I think that any student who wishes to have a special internship should explore opportunities in Newfoundland. And faculty, shouldn't you travel to Newfoundland to provide any of your interns proper supervision!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

2011 RTI Conference Announced

RTI President Marieke Van Puymbroeck has announced the dates and location for the 2011 Recreation Therapists of Indiana (RTI) Conference. The RTI 2111 conference will be held November 17 and 18 in Bloomington at the Bloomington Hospital.

RTI members, of course, should save these dates. The RTI Conference has traditionally been of high quality so RTs from adjoining states may also wish to attend since Bloomington is not a distant drive for many. For example, Bloomington is a 2 hour drive from Louisville and just over 2 hours from Cincinnati.

Internship Opportunities in Canada

From ATRAnet comes this post:
I am the Regional Manager responsible for the Coordination of all Therapeutic Recreation Clinical Placements within Eastern Health and I am contacting you to advise you that if there are any students seeking to complete internship placements under a CTRS in Therapeutic Recreation with Eastern Health for NCTRC certification as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist please ask them to contact me at their convenience.Students are advised to provide a minimum of 2-3 months notice in advance with regards to potential Internship placements.

Currently there are five (5) CTRS working within Eastern health in the
following program areas: Adult Rehab and Continuing Care;Long Term Care; and Mental Health and Addictions.

If you would be so kind as to place this info on your contact list for
potential students it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Sean Pardy
Regional Professional Practice Consultant-Therapeutic Recreation Eastern Health & Regional Manager Therapeutic Recreation Long Term Care Eastern Health
Allied Health Professional Practice
L.A. Miller Center, 100 Forest Road
7th Floor Southcott Hall, Room 704
St. John's, NL Canada A1A 1E5
Tel: (709) 777 - 7408
Fax: (709) 777 - 8113
Email: sean.pardy@easternhealth.ca

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Job Posting

From the ATRAnet Listserv comes this job listing:

A self-starter, energetic, friendly person who is wishing to pursue a career with the elderly!

Golden Living Center is a Long Term Care/ Rehabilitation Center located in the Birmingham/Hoover, AL area and is looking for a great individual to work in our exciting Recreational Service Department.

*Must hold or acquire state required licenses and/or certifications.
* Must be currently certified as Therapeutic Recreation Specialist or eligible to sit for exam within the year or have relevant experience in social or recreational program within the last five years,
* Must meet state/federal regulations if applicable.
* Must have ability to read, write and follow oral and written directions at a level
necessary to accomplish the job.
* Must be able to relate positively and favorably to residents and families and to
work cooperatively with other employees.
* Must maintain regular attendance.
* Must meet all local health regulations, and pass post-employment physical exam
if required. This requirement also includes drug screening, criminal background
investigation, and reference inquiry.
* Must be capable of performing the Essential Job Functions of this job, with or
without reasonable accommodation.

Please Contact Jennifer Sinelnikov CTRS, or Nancy Stanford Executive Director, at

Golden Living Center Riverchase
2500 River Haven Dr
Birmingham, Al 35244

What People are Saying about Lessons Learned

A few weeks ago, Sagamore Publishing put out an announcement on my new book, Lessons Learned: An Open Letter to Recreational Therapy Students and Practitioenrs. In the announcement were several quotes. In case you missed them, here they are:

“I think this is a 5-star/ must-read book for any student in a TR/RT degree program or recreational therapist. If you've not done so already -- read this book.” -Danny Pettry, CTRS

“It is a short and readable introduction to recreational therapy where you feel the "fire and enthusiasm" from a professional with many years of experience.” -Joav Merrick, MD, MMedSci, DMSc, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Kentucky Children’s Hospital, & University of Kentucky

"I am using Lessons Learned in my foundations of TR class this semester. I require the students to read 6 lessons every week, and I have a quiz each week on one or more parts of what they have read. It is a positive addition to the other TR books I use. Lessons Learned has given the students in my course some very good first hand information and I think it makes it easier for them to relate to things they do and see in their volunteer experiences." -Joe Wilson, Ed.D., CTRS, CPRP, University of Northern Iowa

“The outstanding features of this text include personal insight by Dr. Austin based on decades of his passion for recreational therapy; 69 lessons (chapters) that cover a breadth of issues that all practitioners encounter during the course of their careers; and the manner in which the lessons are written provides an opportunity for readers to feel that it is written specifically for them from someone in the know.” -Victoria Dawn Shelar, Ph.D., CTRS, Middle Tennessee State University

“This is an excellent read – every recreation therapist, either starting out or a veteran, should read this wonderful book.” -Charlie Dixon, CTRS, Therapeutic Recreation Directory


Price: $19.95
Size: 7 x 10, Paperback, 147 pp
Copyright: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-57167-582-8
Lessons Learned is also available in eBook format via Sagamore and Amazon.com.


Sagamore Publishing, L.L.C.
1807 North Federal Drive
Urbana, IL 61801

Monday, April 04, 2011

Part-time Position in Psych

The following was posted on the ATRAnet Listserv earlier today:

Dear colleagues,

There is a PRN to part-time position open for a CTRS in Fredericksburg, VA. It is on a 10-bed behavioral health unit in a brand new private hospital. The position is guaranteed at 20 hours a week, but currently supports roughly 25-30 hours a week. It is M-F, with flexible hours. This job has lots of autonomy and unit staff that are supportive!

Please e-mail me with questions, and please feel free to pass along to others. The listing can be found at www.spotsrmc.com under "PRN Activities Therapist." Please let me know if you are applying so I can give HR a heads up!

Stephanie Courtney

Thanks Kathy!

Thanks to Professor Kathy Coyle, from Temple, for putting together the list of university RT/TR programs that was just posted on the ATRAnet for a review prior to finalizing the listing. I'll let RT Blog readers know when the list is finalizaed and how to access it.

A Reminder to Educators and Practitioners

1. Don't forget the glossary titled Glossary of Recreation Therapy and Occupational Therapy, is available online at no cost at http://hdl.handle.net/2022/6474

2. Please recall that Indiana University provides free access to all 23 Recreation Therapy Videos via steaming. To access the RTV videos at no cost go to:

I hope you will plan to use these free services provided by the Indiana University Library. I’ll try to provide information on the RTV programs in a later post.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Great Information Online on Physical Activity

Through Disability.gov I discovered a wealth of information on physical activity, including research on the health benefits of physical activity and suggestions on physical activity for persons with disabilities. Also from the site there were a number of web based resources listed.

A place to get started in accessing a lot of valuable information on physical activity is the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website titled “Be Active Your Way: A Fact Sheet for Adults.” But don’t be mislead if you have interest in children or older adults as the website will provide you with links to all kinds of information on physical activity for any number of populations.

The address to get started is: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/factSheetAdults.aspx

Once you are on the website there are many links to follow – with lots of information.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Position Opening in Reston, VA

Tim Passmore, Ed.D., CTRS/L, passed on this position opening via the
ATRAnet Listserv:

Director Recreation Therapy, Cameron Glen Health and Rehab, Reston, VA

It is a LTC and skilled nursing facility

Please make inquiries to jsantamaria@commonwealth-rehab.com

April Fools' Day!