Research in the clinical setting : a qualitative study of the value of play research in the continuing education of occupational therapists.
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Occupational therapists have always recognized playas an important part of a child's life. However, until recently play has been viewed as a medium for reaching treatment goals, rather than as an activity that is valuable in and of itself. If occupational therapists think of playas the primary activity or occupation of childhood, then play should be a very important area of focus for paediatric clinicians. In order to assist children to become as independent as possible with play and to have fulfilling play experiences the occupational therapist needs to have a clear understanding of how to assess, set goals which lead towards competence in play, and promote play. Recent play literature has placed importance on play behaviours and looking at the relationship between the child and both the human and nonhuman environment. Believing that play and playfulness can and should be promoted, for children with physical disabilities, requires that therapists learn new assessment and intervention strategies. A new assessment tool, The Test of Playfulness, was developed by Bundy in 1994. It addressed play behaviours and environmental influences. The author, a co-investigator and eight occupational therapists were involved in a playfulness study using this test to compare the playfulness of children with physical disabilities with their able-bodied peers. After the study was completed the author questioned whether or not involvement in the playfulness study was enough of a change agent to bring about transformative learning in order to further the eight occupational therapists' education about play.