Recreation Therapy - Bay Pines VA Healthcare System
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Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

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Recreation Therapy

(Video:  Watch how U.S. Army Vietnam Veteran John Brouwer recovered from a double leg amputation using recreation therapy through the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System)

Recreation Therapy Services (RTS) is a direct-care interdisciplinary service, whose aim is to maintain or improve functional independence and quality of life through active therapy and meaningful therapeutic activities. RTS outcomes are based upon Veteran’s treatment needs and goals in order to optimize independence in life activities. Goals are achieved through state of the art clinical care, education, technology, and research-based interventions within the scope of recreation therapy and music therapy.

Special services available through RTS include:

  • Music Therapy
  • Fitness & Wellness
  • National Programs and Special Events
  • Volunteer Opportunities
  • Clinical Internships
  • And more!

Program areas served by RTS include:

  • Community Living Center
  • Home Based Primary Care/Medical Foster Home
  • Hospice
  • Outpatient Services & Specialty Programs (by consult only)
  • Mental Health Services: Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program (DRRTP), Stress Treatment Programs (PTSD), Substance Abuse Treatment Programs (SARRTP), Psychosocial Rehabilitation Recovery Center (PRRC)

Benefits of services include, but are not limited to:

  • Increase physical well-being (weight management, diabetes, hypertension, etc.)
  • Increase strength and endurance using a variety of treatment modalities
  • Positive coping strategies for management of unwanted behaviors
  • Decrease anxiety
  • Increase knowledge of community resources
  • Decrease social isolation
  • Improve social functioning
  • Development of new leisure skills
  • Increase independence in leisure functioning
  • Enhance creative expression
  • Promote constructive use of leisure time

What is Recreation Therapy?
Recreation therapy, also known as therapeutic recreation, is a systematic process that utilizes recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the assessed needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions, as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery and well-being (American Therapeutic Recreation Association, 2016).

What is Music Therapy?
Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program (American Music Therapy Association, 2016). Bay Pines VA Healthcare System currently employs one full-time board-certified music therapist who use musical interventions designed to promote wellness, manage stress, improve pain management, improve self-expression, enhance memory, improve communication, promote physical rehabilitation, and other individualized goals.

Wellness Center
RTS staff working in this section are responsible for a variety of fitness and wellness programs. Veterans are consulted through their primary care providers for initial screening to assure they are able to safely and independently participate without the supervision or support of a therapist. Individualized fitness and wellness programs are developed to meet Veteran needs on a continuum of care through completion of an initial screening, education on health and wellness, and one to one therapeutic interventions in order to assist Veterans in participating in self-directed fitness. RTS is also active in the MOVE! Weight Management Program for Veterans. This includes providing Veteran education for making healthy lifestyle choices and facilitating exercise classes to assist with weight loss and management.

National Programs and Special Events
Each year, the VA sponsors 6 national events for U.S. Military Veterans served by VA medical facilities nationwide. Each program enhances the physical, social, and emotional well-being of Veterans who participate. Veterans involved in these events and the hundreds of VA employees and volunteers who support them each year all share a strong sense of purpose and camaraderie. Each national event increases awareness of the therapeutic value of recreation, sports, or the creative arts. The events are co-sponsored by the Department of Veteran Affairs, Veterans Service Organizations, non-governmental organizations. For more information go to VA Adaptive Sports (

Below are the national programs that take place annually. 

Volunteer Opportunities
RTS relies heavily on volunteer support for programming and opportunities. Volunteers are involved in a variety of programs such as animal assisted activities, bedside socialization, hydration programming, support with general programming, and more. To learn more about volunteer opportunities within RTS and how to get involved, please contact Voluntary Services. Contact information is available at:

Clinical Internships
RTS at BPVAHCS offers exciting internship opportunities year-round for students pursuing a degree in recreation therapy. Interns will experience a unique opportunity where personal and professional growth can be expected. RTS has a diverse staff from all walks of life, with the experience and knowledge to guide an intern to become a solid clinician within the profession. If you are interested in exploring internship opportunities please contact the RTS Supervisor at 727-398-9364. New affiliation agreements can take up to 6 months to complete and are only completed in January and July, therefore you are asked to initiate this process as soon as possible.

How to get involved
To learn more about how RTS programs could help with your rehabilitation goals, ask your Primary Care provider or other VA health care team professional for a consult.

Contact Info


  • C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center
    Community Living Center
    Building 101, Room D-12

Contact Number(s)

  • 727-398-6661 Ext. 15564
  • 727-398-9364

Hours of Operation

  • Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.