Recreational Therapy for Cold Agglutinin Disease Patients

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by Mary Chapman |

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Living with a chronic disease such as cold agglutinin disease (CAD) can lead to anxiety, stress, and feelings of isolation. Recreational therapy may work to improve your psychological and physical well-being.

About CAD

CAD is a rare autoimmune disorder in which exposure to cold temperatures, those between 32 to 50 F (0 and 10 C), causes autoantibodies called cold agglutinins to bind tightly to red blood cells, inducing their lysis (disintegration) and resulting in anemia.

The disease, which commonly affects adults who are of middle age and older, may manifest as a primary disease, in which the underlying cause is not known, or as a secondary disease likely due to bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections, certain types of cancer, or other autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus.

About recreational therapy

Recreational therapy, sometimes called therapeutic recreation, uses recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the needs of those with chronic illnesses or disabling conditions. The aim is to improve or maintain physical, cognitive, social, and emotional functioning in order to help patients fully participate in life.

What does it involve?

A certified therapeutic recreation specialist (CTRS) provides and directly supervises the service. He or she helps assess your needs and develops a program especially for you.

The aim is to help maintain your physical, mental, and emotional well-being by easing stress, anxiety, and depression. Recreational therapy can also help in strengthening or recovering basic motor and reasoning abilities, in building your confidence, and in keeping your engaged.

Recreational therapy uses a variety of techniques. These include arts and crafts, animals, sports, games, dance and movement, drama, music, and community outings.

doctor’s referral is generally needed to begin recreational therapy. If you think this therapy would be of help to you, talk to your doctor or healthcare team about getting a referral to a program that’s convenient for you.

How can recreational therapy help CAD patients?

CAD typically affects older people. A potential problem is that advancing age, coupled with a chronic condition, can result in social isolation. It’s important to your overall health and life quality to maintain social engagement. That’s where recreational therapy can help.

Sometimes, people with rare diseases tend to avoid social activities because they feel other cannot understand their condition — usually because they’ve never heard of it. There’s also the need to constantly explain symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, temperature sensitivity, and joint pain.

Perhaps you moved to a warmer climate, or closer to medical care centers to help manage your symptoms. If you don’t have many friends or family members in your new locale, you can get into a slump. As it is, depression can affect people with CAD. Recreational therapy can help you gain the confidence to make acquaintances and plug into your new community.

Techniques used in recreational therapy, such as dance and movement, may also help with joint pain. Or they may spark a passion or hobby that you can share with others.

Given your condition, your CTRS will make certain that activities take place in sufficiently warm rooms or spaces, avoiding, say, air-conditioned restaurants or concert halls. And while you’re socializing, you’ll need to steer clear of contact with sick people, since good hygiene and avoiding infections are crucial for people with CAD.


Last updated: Nov. 12, 2020


Cold Agglutinin Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.