Visual art in physical rehabilitation: experiences of people with neurological conditions

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Aims: The aims of this study were to understand the experience of participation in visual art from the perspective of adults undergoing outpatient physical rehabilitation and to determine whether art has a place in this context.

Method: This qualitative study involved interviewing adults who attended a weekly art class run by a qualified art teacher and occupational therapists in an outpatient physical rehabilitation setting. Nine participants with neurological conditions discussed their experience of the programme and the goals they were working towards or had achieved through painting.

Findings: The themes that emerged from the study show that art contributed to the participants meeting their individual rehabilitation goals. It also assisted the participants in using time, increasing enjoyment, regaining confidence and planning for engagement in future activities. All these achievements were seen by the participants to contribute to their rehabilitation or recovery. The identified themes align with the aims of rehabilitation and are similar to findings from many other studies investigating the use of art by people affected by illness or disability.

Conclusion: The findings of this study inform clinical practice in the use of visual art with clients in rehabilitation and validate its place in a physical rehabilitation programme.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at

    Submissions can be made at

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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