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What Are the Different Types of Therapeutic Activities?

By Sandra Koehler
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Therapeutic activities is a broad term used to describe any activities used to gain or regain functional mobility including gross and fine motor skills necessary for an individual to interact and react with the world around them. This includes skills ranging from recovering movement abilities or skills hampered or destroyed by injuries to enhancing precise dexterity movements necessary for complex or complicated skill sets for a specific activity. Most therapeutic activities involve strengthening exercises and controlled repetitive movements to enhance abilities.

The most common reason to utilize therapeutic activities is after an injury or illness that impedes normal activities. For example, a broken bone or an injured muscle may require therapeutic treatments including pain relieving modalities such as the application of heat or ice, and the slow resumption of movement through a specialized therapeutic treatment program. This type of injury recovery normally involves beginning with a specific stretching routine designed to re-lengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments involved followed by a range of motion program. Range of motion is the movement of the involved body part through normal movement patterns.

Once range of motion is restored, strengthening of specific muscles or muscle groups responsible for that movement is necessary to regain power. When normal movement and strength returns, therapeutic activities progress to fine motor skills, or the ability to coordinate different muscles to enhance the ability to perform very specific tasks, an aptitude known as dexterity. This skill set can be seen with a wide range of activities such as the ability to type on a computer keyboard to the ability button a shirt or wiggle the toes. The use of therapeutic activities, however, is not limited to recovering mobility after an injury.

These techniques can also incorporate enhancing abilities prior to a surgical procedure. Performing therapeutic activities such as a stretching and strengthening program several weeks before knee surgery, for example, can decrease healing time and speed up the recovery of normal knee movement and strength. This type of program is commonly referred to as therapeutic intervention.

Therapeutic activities may also be used when attempting to learn or “train for” a specific activity or sport. Soccer, for example, requires a specific skill set including but not limited to the ability to propel the body forward while controlling the ball with the foot. By participating in a specialized program of therapeutic activities before attempting to play soccer can enhance abilities and fine motor control to successfully call in all the necessary components of movement to avoid injury and to excel at the sport.

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Discussion Comments

By burcinc — On Oct 14, 2014

When I think about therapeutic activities, I also think about ones that are therapeutic for the mind. Some types of music, for example, is very therapeutic. Aromatherapy is something else that calms and soothes the nerves. So do hobbies like walks in nature, painting and writing. Sometimes our mind needs therapy too.

By SteamLouis — On Oct 13, 2014

@candyquilt-- I don't know what type of injury you have but you might not be doing enough. You should talk to your doctor about your progression and ask if anything else would help.

There are many alternative therapies out there for this kind of thing, ranging from massage, exercises in water, to meditation and yoga. Of course, all are not suitable for everyone and if you're not working with an expert, you may even end up causing more injury with some of these activities. So it's always best to work under the supervision of a doctor.

By candyquilt — On Oct 13, 2014

It's kind of cool how the body can regain its range of movement with therapeutic practices. I'm sure it takes time and a lot of patience and effort, but the fact that it can be done is nice.

I had a small injury myself. My doctor did not find physical therapy necessary. So I'm just doing some exercises myself at home. I'm getting better but it's a slow progression.

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