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As the River Flows: Impact of an Outdoor Adventure Program for Adult Burn Survivors

1 August 2017


Participation in adventure programming has been associated with improvements in physical, social, and psychological functioning for individuals who experience disability or illness. In this study, the impact of a therapeutic adventure program on adult burn survivors was examined using qualitative analysis of participant responses to open-ended interview questions. The adventure experiences referred to in this study were two, four-day kayaking/rafting trips conducted in 2013 and 2014. The total number of participants included eleven men and six women (n=17) between 20 and 63 years of age (mean = 45.23) who were 2-40 years post injury (mean – 16.47). Fifteen of 17 had a history of upper extremity amputations and/or >60% total body surface area (TBSA) burn injury. Following each trip a group format interview was conducted and video-recorded. Group members were invited to respond to a series of questions related to the adventure experience, the impact of the group, and self-reflection. Five significant themes emerged: (1) Positive experience with the group, (2) Positive experience with the therapeutic adventure, (3) Post-traumatic growth, (4) Bigger purpose, and (5) Burn survival experience. The Adventure Experience Paradigm (AEP) is presented as a model to understand the therapeutic effects of participation in outdoor adventure and future research exploring the balance between perceived risk and perceived competence is suggested.


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