Date of Award

5-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Advisor

Hawkins, Brent L

Committee Member

Cory , Lynne

Committee Member

Puymbroeck , Marieke Van

Abstract

The Global War on Terrorism and the ongoing contingency operations have resulted in a large number of service members returning home with life changing traumatic injuries. As a result, there has been a surge of programs designed to facilitate transition into life with a disability and promote recovery from injury, including programs providing recreation and sports. The purpose of this qualitative study is to examine the effects of recreation and sport participation on injured service members' recovery and enhancement of health. Health is investigated using the World Health Organization's definition which includes physical, mental, and social well-being. Interviews were conducted at the 2008 Paralympics Military Sports camp and the 2010 Dixie Games and were analyzed using a phenomenological methodology. Analyzing injured service members' lived experiences within recreation services revealed the meaning and value of such programs as related to health. Results indicated that recreation and sports affected multiple aspects of service members' health recovery and enhancement. More specifically, results indicated that the restorative effects of recreation and sports went beyond health recovery and extended into optimal well-being by contributing to resilience and personal growth. Three main themes emerged related to health recovery and enhancement through recreation and sports participation: (a) recreation as a tool for social integration (b) recreation as a tool for recovery and enhancement of physical and mental health and (c) recreation as a tool for moving beyond health. Discussion expands upon the effects that take place during service members' experiences within recreation and sports participation and provides suggestions for recreational therapy practice.

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