Including Arts in Rehabilitation Enhances Outcomes in the Psychomotor, Cognitive, and Affective Domains: A Scoping Review

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Objectives: The purpose of this scoping review was to analyze the published literature regarding the use of art in the context of rehabilitation for consideration in physical therapy.

Methods: The CINAHL, PsycArticles, APA PsycInfo, Art Index, Music Index, Cochrane Reviews, and PubMed electronic databases were accessed. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were established and utilized to determine study eligibility. Study details were extracted from each article by researchers using a systematic format. Summation of journal type, participants, dosing and type of intervention, setting and interventionist, outcome domains, and study results were included.

Results: Out of 1452 studies, 76 were included for extraction. Of these studies, most had outcome measures aligned with the psychomotor and affective domains of learning (n = 66). Very few studies had outcome measures with psychomotor and cognitive domains (n = 2) or psychomotor, affective, and cognitive outcome measures (n = 8). Regarding the arts used, music, dance, or both were used in 77 instances. Fewer studies reported using creative arts therapy, singing, theater, writing, and rhythm (n = 17). Of the 76 studies analyzed, 74 reported a within-group treatment effect.

Conclusions: The arts effectively enhance physical therapist practice; therefore, it is recommended that physical therapists continue to seek collaboration with art professionals and explore the use of arts in practice.

Impact: Findings demonstrate that combining the arts with physical therapist practice amplifies not only psychomotor but affective and cognitive outcomes as well. The arts have applicability across broad populations (eg, chronic pain, neurologic dysfunction, respiratory conditions). This study supports that physical therapist education and practice should embrace the arts as a collaborative modality to promote enhanced psychomotor, affective, and cognitive outcomes.


Online ahead of print 22 January 2022.






Physical Therapy






Oxford University Press