donate icon DONATE

Recreational therapy may just seem like fun, but each interaction has a defined purpose.

At Shriners Children’s, we believe in the power of play! Activities are adapted to meet the need of each child, encouraging active, healthy lifestyles. The first step is finding out what the patient is passionate about. Knowing what their leisure interests are helps our team of recreational therapists customize a treatment plan that focuses on identifying ways children can participate in those activities as independently as possible.

From outdoor adventures to music programs to art projects and more, recreational therapy invites our patients to channel their energies towards the things that make them happy. They get to focus on being a kid again. Self-expression promotes self-esteem, and that is exactly why therapeutic recreation has such a significant impact on a patient’s social, physical, cognitive and psychological development.

Research shows that children who engage in therapeutic play are better prepared for medical procedures, experiencing less fear and anxiety leading up to major appointments. In the long term, they adjust to and accept the challenges associated with their medical journey much easier. Our trusted professionals know a patient’s psychological health is just as important as their physical health, making recreation a key component to the rehabilitation treatment plans offered at Shriners Children’s.

After leaving the hospital, our team of therapists want to ensure your child has a smooth transition back into everyday life, with a regained sense of confidence in themselves, and maybe even a new hobby to enjoy. Adaptive sports teams are a great way for patients to stay motivated beyond the four walls of our facility, and connecting kids to opportunities like this is just another role of the recreational therapist.

Your child’s well-being is important to us and continues to be, long after their latest surgery or follow-up clinic appointment. That is why Shriners Children’s continues to search for new and innovative ways to deliver reactional therapy to patients, regardless of the families’ ability to pay.

Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.

Which patients benefit most from recreational therapy?

Medical appointments and procedures can disrupt a child’s routine, and keeping them on track with what is important to them is an essential part of their recovery. Patients are more likely to cooperate with the clinical aspects of their care if they get the opportunity to take a step back, recharge and enjoy the benefits of play.

Recreational therapy can provide great benefits for those who:

  • Have little to no engagement in social interactions within their community
  • Have internal, external or system barriers to opportunities for social engagement
  • Need modifications of a leisure activity so they can still find ways to participate
  • Need assistance in choosing attainable, alternative leisure activities that align with previously established interests
  • Can benefit from the acquiring of new, required skill sets
Play is a way for [patients] to cope with being in the hospital and maintain normalcy. Recreational therapists are the link to that.
Mary, Philadelphia
patient with pet therapy dog

Pet Therapy

Shriners Children’s pet therapy program reduces stress and anxiety for patients and their families, making their hospital stay a little less scary.

Pediatric Specialties

View All Specialties


Shriners Children’s provides the full spectrum of pediatric orthopedic care. It's everything from fracture care and casting for broken bones, to surgery and rehabilitation.

Burn Care

Shriners Children’s treats all levels and types of burns, including chemical burns, electrical burns and flame burns. Our pediatric burn care treatment plans are personalized and can include wound care, scar management and reconstruction.

Spine & Spinal Cord

At Shriners Children's, every family can expect our pediatric spine and spinal cord surgeons to provide compassion, respect and a treatment plan that utilizes the most current clinical and scientific research.


Shriners Children’s teams of specialists treat the physical, social, emotional and developmental challenges of craniofacial conditions like cleft palate to help children live full, healthy lives.

Next Steps

Request an Appointment

Families and caregivers seeking treatment should start by contacting us for an appointment.

Log in to the Patient Portal

Parents and guardians of existing patients can email, request records, schedule appointments and more.

Refer a Patient

Physicians and healthcare providers can request appointments, start transfers or contact us with questions.