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Taking Physical & Occupational Therapy Outdoors

Posted by Brian Spence on Aug 21, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Outdoor Therapy Garden, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, PT, OTUsually you think of physical and occupational therapy as taking place indoors, in a room with lots of different types of equipment that help you target the particular parts of the body that need attention. However, all that equipment certainly doesn’t mimic real life very well, nor can patients come back and use the equipment once they have exhausted their PT or OT benefits. So why not think outside, and bring the clients along? This is the idea behind a therapy garden.

The idea behind this garden is that physical therapy and/or occupational therapy can also happen in more real-life situations.

Like most gardens, this one has flowers and dirt. It also intentionally has different kinds of walking surfaces, which allow people to practice walking on mulch, gravel, and uneven paving stones. The flower beds are at different heights, which gives patients a chance to practice different tasks at different levels, and holding garden tools. There are also park benches and picnic table seats to practice getting into and out of, so there are lots of opportunities to practice everyday tasks—or tasks that are similar—in settings that patients will actually experience once physical therapy is over.

There are other, less obvious, elements to the therapy garden as well. The plants are chosen for their calming scents, and the garden setting is a peaceful and relaxing place for people. This helps to decrease tension as they learn how to maneuver themselves with new situations and (sometimes) limitations. Studies show that such gardens can decrease agitation and stress, as well as lowering the risk for falls.

While the therapy garden will not replace all the specialty equipment for physical and occupational therapy, it provides an important additional avenue for helping patients become more comfortable with their surroundings.

To learn more about other such therapeutic innovations, contact Staffing Plus to hire your next Physical or Occupational Therapist.

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