Recreational Therapy to Promote Mobility in Long-Term Care: A Scoping Review

J Aging Phys Act. 2021 Feb 1;29(1):142-161. doi: 10.1123/japa.2019-0345. Epub 2020 Jul 28.


The objective of this study was to explore and synthesize evidence on the effectiveness and implementation of recreational therapy programs to enhance mobility outcomes (e.g., balance, functional performance, fall incidence) for older adults in long-term care. The authors conducted a scoping review of 66 studies following the PRISMA guidelines. Two independent reviewers evaluated each article, and a third reviewer resolved discrepancies. Randomized controlled studies provided strong to moderate evidence that tai chi programs, walking, dancing, and ball games improve flexibility, functional mobility, and balance. Studies assessing program implementation highlighted that program delivery was facilitated by clear instruction, encouragement, attendance documentation, and minimal equipment. This review elucidated the benefit of recreational therapy programs on mobility. It also identified the need for customized programs based on individuals' interests and their physical and mental abilities. These findings and recommendations will assist practitioners in designing effective and feasible recreational therapy programs for long-term care.

Keywords: elderly; implementation; mobility promotion; residential care; therapeutic recreation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Care
  • Recreation Therapy*
  • Tai Ji*
  • Walking

Grant support