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Starts at $9.98 per contact hour
Min. Hours $$/Hr
4 hours $8.98
8 hours $7.98
12 hours $6.98
20 hours $5.98
30 hours $4.98

Play and the Brain: Why Play Matters to Your Gray Matter

1.0 Contact Hours
Target Audience: Nurses, healthcare professionals, and interested individuals
Purpose/Goal: The outcome of this course is for the learner to discuss the impact that play has on the brain and overall well-being; the importance of play in human development; the qualities and characteristics of play; the types of play and play personalities; the health benefits of play; and the ways to incorporate play into everyday life.
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"Act like a child" is probably not a phrase that is on the top of anyone's mind. Yet, researchers are discovering that there are many health benefits to rediscovering our inner child. Play is vital to who we are as human beings and it is an essential component of a healthy life. Play is present in all mammals including human beings. In human beings, it is equally important for children as it is for adults. While childishness is not desirable, being "childlike" is.

Upon completion of the course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Describe the importance of play in human development
  • Explain the key characteristics of play and their relationship to brain health.
  • Discuss types of play.
  • Describe the categories of play personalities.
  • Identify the health benefits of play, including the effects of play on the brain.
  • List ways to incorporate play into everyday life.

We are our brains, and anything that changes the brain changes who we are and who we will become. Our life successes in all areas, including health and socioeconomic status, are profoundly affected by brain development (Kolb, 2009). Play is essential to brain development, and it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional health and well-being of children, adolescents, and adults (Anderson-McNamee & Bailey, 2010; Ginsburg, the Committee on Communications, and the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, 2007; Libby, 2014).

Play is a primal activity for all human beings. It is preconscious and preverbal, arising out of ancient biological structures that existed before human consciousness or the ability to speak. Play is considered a biological drive that, while not as strong as the desire for food, sleep, or sex, is nonetheless present in all mammals, including humans (Brown & Vaughan, 2010; Libby, 2014).

Play is universal and is considered a key component of diversity and evolution. It is the dominant and directing mode of learning during childhood (Elkind, 2007). Play is so important to optimal child development that the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights recognizes it as a right of every child (United National Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 1990).

Play is equally important for adults. While work and play are mutually supportive, according to Brown & Vaughan (2010), the opposite of play is not work—it is depression. Individuals have an inherent need for variety and challenge. When that inherent need is buried by an overwhelming sense of responsibility, “what is left is a dulled soul” (p. 126). Play is called recreation because it makes us new again, it helps us re-create us and our world” (Brown & Vaughan, 2010, p. 127).

Complete the course post exam (CE Test) with a score of 80% or greater. Complete all fields of the course evaluation form. Certificate of Completion is provided once the course post exam is passed per criteria above.

  • American Board of Managed Care Nursing
  • ANCC - American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • AOTA - American Occupational Therapy Association
  • ASWB - Association of Social Work Boards
  • California Board of Behavioral Sciences
  • California Board of Registered Nursing
  • California Department of Health, Aid, and Technician Certification Section
  • District of Columbia Board of Nursing
  • Florida Board of Nursing
  • Florida Board of Nursing - Certified Nursing Assistants
  • Florida Board of Respiratory Care
  • Florida Council of Dietetics and Nutrition
  • Florida Council of Licensed Midwifery
  • NAADAC - The National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors
  • NCBTMB -National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork
  • Florida Board of Massage Therapists


Practice Level:


Content Focus:

Occupational Therapy Process

Course Expires:

October 01, 2020

  • Cyndie Koopsen, RN, BSN, MBA, HNB-BC, RN-BC, HWNC-BC
  • Caroline Young, MPH
Jurisdictional Requirements:

Continuing education (CE) licensing requirements vary by jurisdiction, are not well defined, and may change. These CE requirements may vary in terms of the number of hours required to the types of courses that must be taken. ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC recommends you contact your licensing board or accrediting organization for the latest continuing education requirements of your state or territory. Compliance with CE requirements is the responsibility of the individual health care provider. Health care providers must understand the CE requirements in their jurisdictions, and be sure they are up-to-date on any rule changes that affect their license. For further information, please see our Accreditation Information.

Accommodations for Disabilities:

Every effort will be made to accommodate your special needs. To request accommodations, please contact us.

Conflicts of Interest and Relevant Financial Relationships:

The authors/planning committee members have no conflicts of interests or relevant financial relationships to declare relevant to this activity.

Commercial Support:

No commercial support has been received for this activity.

Non-endorsement of products:

Accreditation refers to recognition of continuing nursing education only and does not imply ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC approval or endorsement of any commercial product.

Off-label Use of Products:

None of the authors intend to discuss off-label uses of drugs, mechanical devices, biologics, or diagnostics not approved by the FDA for use in the United States.