In honor of National Recreational Therapy Month, we’ll be highlighting some of our amazing recreational therapists throughout the month of February. Today’s spotlight is on Tracy Bogdanoff, a rec therapist working on Magee’s general rehab and spinal cord injury units.
How would you describe your job to someone that doesn’t know anything about Recreation Therapy?
Many people do not know what recreation therapy really is. I often get the response, “Oh so you play games?” when I tell someone I am a Recreation Therapist. Recreation Therapists may work in inpatient hospitals or health facilities, residential facilities, community mental health centers, adult day care programs, substance abuse centers, hospice care, community centers, school systems, and private practice (providing services in the home and community). As a Recreation Therapist working in an acute care rehab setting, I work with patients who have experienced a stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or have been diagnosed and/or living with a disease/disorder. My job at Magee is to help patients improve their physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and leisure needs by utilizing a wide range of modalities and techniques. I help teach my patients various techniques to develop skills, knowledge, and behaviors for daily living and community involvement after discharge. I also help to improve a patients functioning and independence as well as reduce or eliminate the effects of illness or disability by connecting them to resources and educational services. On any given day, you may find me out in the community teaching a patient community reintegration and accessibility skills, utilizing our assistive technology equipment for leisure and/or educational purposes with a patient, or in the gym participating in a Wii dance patient/therapist dance duo. I sincerely love my job and am beyond blessed I have found my niche in this unique, creative “helping field.”
Why did you decide to be a Recreation Therapist?
Growing up, I always truly enjoyed helping others, and I always knew my calling was in a “helping field.” With so many “helping fields,” I honestly fell into recreation therapy when reading descriptions of various healthcare college majors. I knew the recreation therapy field was a perfect match when I read that a recreation therapist helps to improve an individual’s cognitive needs, emotional, social, and leisure needs while also acting as teachers, advocates, and cheerleaders for others.
What is the most exciting part of your job?
My whole job is exciting! Being in the acute rehabilitation setting, I am working with patients at all stages of rehab which to me is incredibly rewarding and inspiring. It is exciting to be able to teach a patient how to continue participating in something they love to do while also showing them a different way to do it. I also love introducing different pieces of adapted/assistive technology to patients to help them achieve their personal goal. I can honestly say there is not a day that goes by that one of my patients does not cease to amaze me. One of my favorite aspects of my job is seeing a patient use their new acquired skills to achieve a personal goal they have set for themselves.
Do you have a particular experience or patient that made an impact on your life?
Each and every patient that has come through Magee’s doors has made an impact on my life in one way or another, but one patient in particular will always have a special place in my heart. This patient came to Magee last year newly diagnosed with a particular rare form of MS. Each and every day, I watched her put her whole heart and soul into her therapy. I watched her improve physically; however, what impressed me the most was how strong this young woman truly was. Although unsure of her future at the time, she always strived to achieve her desired goals. While working with her she taught me how to truly appreciate each and every moment we are given and inspired me to strive to not sweat the small stuff and appreciate what we have at the given moment. She will truly never understand how the small amount of time we spend together impacted by life, but her time at Magee solidified how much I honestly love what I do and the team I work with.