A rehab program is meant to be more than simply a place to rest up after surgery or illness. Rehab programs offer all sorts of state of the art therapies, from standards such as physical and occupational therapy to innovative therapy ideas such as art and music. A newer entrant into rehab therapy is horticultural therapy.
What is horticultural therapy?
Horticulture is the study and care of plants and gardens. Many people find gardening to be a calming and relaxing activity, and the therapeutic community has “uprooted” this idea to create a new dimension to alternative therapies.
Horticultural therapy is a state of the art therapy form where patients work with plant and gardening activities. This can be anything from flower arranging to planting gardens. At the outer ends it can include anything nature-related, even animal therapy. Some enthusiasts even call a walk at the part a form of classical therapy, even though always been anecdotally noted as a kind of therapy.
What’s the idea?
The idea is to offer therapy that allows patients to leave behind the stress of what their dealing with and engage their minds and souls. Part of the concept is to engross them in an activity that will encourage a state of mindfulness. Part of it is to simply allow them occupy their minds with a soothing pursuit. Some horticulturists believe that all species benefit from common interaction, and that interactions between human and plant bring existence to a whole new level. The writer Ralph Waldo Emerson claimed there’s an “occult relation between man and vegetable.”
At its most basic level, horticultural therapy can be seen as a distraction from the standard rehab program, which can be physically challenging and for some patients somewhat tedious. Working with nature can elevate the rehab experience. And for many patients in rehab, being post-illness and away from home can lead to anxiety and depression, or at the very least, boredom and sad thoughts. Plants and nature are objects of beauty and art, and they can make people happy.
State of the art therapy
More facilities are seeing that classic rehab therapies need to be supplemented with more soul-inspiring actions. Not only does this calm the spirit, but it actually aids in physical recovery. Often, there’s some element of motivation in a person’s ability to recover and more forward. Numerous studies have shown that happy, positive, motivated people have generally better outcomes. Exposing them to nature, instead of confining them in a bed behind a closed door, can bring about the pleasure necessary to make them feel good. And of course, in a case where the patient can not yet get out of bed, the nature can get brought to him, in the form of cut flowers for arranging and watering, or cuddly and safe animals.
Horticultural therapy was first developed as a means of helping World War One veterans dealing with PTSD. Over the years it has moved into other areas where people need help with relaxation and distraction, and today it’s becoming standard as an option in hospitals and rehab facilities.
Sinai Post Acute Care Rehabilitation Center in Newark, New Jersey, employs state of the art therapy programs to help our patients move swiftly in their recovery.