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Physical or occupational therapy? You can take it outside

August 25, 2014

When someone says they are receiving physical or occupational therapy, the typical thought is that they are inside using exercise balls, bikes, parallel bars and other equipment. Can you imagine it a different way? Experiencing outside therapy is another option.

What is a therapy garden?

In this particular situation, the therapeutic garden at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital Rehabilitation Center is used as a compliment to the therapy performed inside the clinic. Patients will be able to visit the therapy garden to experience walking, working and re-learning how to live in the world. The different features in the garden allow for different types and levels of therapeutic challenges to be presented.

What are the features of the therapeutic garden?

This garden isn’t a typical garden. While there are flowers and areas to plant, there is much more to it.

The garden consists of different parts for therapeutic purposes:

• A variety of walking surfaces: mulch, gravel and stepping stones.

• Leveled flower beds to have challenging tasks performed at different heights.

• The opportunity to manipulate hand-held tools to cultivate the garden.

• A park bench and picnic table for gaining accessibility to different seating areas.

• Opportunity to engage and motivate patients in a new and exciting environment.

How does this garden provide therapy?

The garden is set up in a way that offers therapy to different patients with different needs. Around the outside of the garden are different walking areas with uneven surfaces and functional tasks to engage in. Depending on the need, patients will learn how to walk on different surfaces, manipulate tools with their hands, use a wheelchair and improve their cognitive processing.

The flowers planted have been specifically picked out as calm and soothing scents to provide a peaceful and calming therapeutic atmosphere for the patients. The picnic table and bench allow the patients to experience sitting in different places and learn how to move in and out of these locations. Through work and relaxation, the garden provides the patients with a new type of therapy.

Therapeutic gardens have been shown to decrease stress, falls, agitation and pain. Those taking medications typically need less and have improved attention. The garden makes a great addition to the way rehabilitation patients receive therapy, as well as open new doors and opportunities for those working their way back to higher levels of functioning with in-home activities and in the community.

Where can I find this therapy garden?

IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital Rehabilitation Center, 3300 W. Community Drive, Muncie, opened its therapy garden on Aug. 6, 2013.

(source: thestarpress.com)


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