Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Spring is in the Air
By Steven Brand:
Los Angeles, CA – September 10, 2007 – It was planting time for patients and family members recently at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Los Angeles.
Staff members from the hospital’s Child Life and Recreational Therapy Department assisted patients and family members as they planted flowers for themselves and helped beautify the hospital grounds. These gardening tasks were fun and they also play an important role the rehabilitation of our orthopedic and burn reconstruction patients.
Anna Peirera, Manager of the Child Life and Recreation Therapy Department at SHC-LA explains, “This type of activity has many benefits for our patients. They get the chance to be outside on a beautiful day, interact with their fellow patients and potentially learn a new hobby that will last them a lifetime.”
While gardening may be a hobby to some, it’s also serious clinical tool that is overseen by the American Horticultural Therapy Association. The concept of plant therapy began in the early 1950’s and has flourished since then. Many universities now have credentialed horticultural therapy programs.
This type of therapy is also often used as a form of group therapy helping patients to build their socialization skills and improve their self-esteem. For children born with disabilities, “Working with plants helps our patients as they move back into mainstream society.” says Peirera. “They get to work in a team environment and learn that there really is no limit to what they can do.”
Plant therapy is used in conjunction with more traditional rehabilitation therapies by using plants and nature-related activities to assist in the rehabilitation of patients. A simple garden task, such as the planting and watering of flowers provides valuable physical and occupational therapy to the children being treated at SHC-LA. Gardening has the added benefit of contributing to the patients' mental and emotional recovery.
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