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Horticultural therapy benefits physical rehab patients and community members

Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital April 22, 2015 News Releases

(Malvern, PA) – The Horticultural Therapy Program at Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital (BMRH), part of Main Line Health, is preparing for their spring produce donation season while allowing patients to successfully achieve their rehab goals through gardening.

“Our horticultural therapy program gives patients the opportunity to contribute to their recovery in a natural, calming environment,” explains Pam Young, who oversees the Horticultural Therapy Program and Sydney Thayer III Horticultural Center at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital. “This program not only provides physical and cognitive benefits to the patients, but it helps those in our community who are in need of fresh produce.”

Each spring, Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital’s Horticultural Therapy program donates seedlings and seeds for planting to their partner organizations in the community, including the Urban Tree Connection, the Chester County Food Bank and the Home of the Sparrow.

“Our community partnerships truly involve the work and the therapy goals of each patient involved in the program,” adds Young. “Through the process, the patients’ physical and cognitive therapy goals are met through sowing the seeds, planting the seedlings in the garden, and harvesting and weighing the produce, as well as the organizing and arranging of the donations to each location.”

Although patients may appreciate the unique environment of horticultural therapy and a ‘break’ from the gym or therapy classroom, time spent in the garden or greenhouse isn’t an interruption of a patient’s treatment; it’s a supplement to their treatment. Horticultural therapy allows patients to continue working on their rehabilitation goals in a one-on-one or group setting. By taking part in interactive activities like planting seeds and watering or repotting plants, patients improve their mobility, balance, endurance, memory, and social skills.

“Getting back to nature is key to a patient’s recovery. It provides a healing environment that our patients are drawn to and connect with,” says Young. “In addition to being physically and cognitively beneficial, many patients also say that horticultural therapy is spiritually and emotionally rewarding when they get the chance to see people in the community benefit from the fresh produce that is provided to them.”

Although horticultural therapy has become popular in recent years, it is not offered at all physical rehabilitation centers. Young, who has seen firsthand the benefits it offers her patients, urges individuals and families to do their research when choosing a rehab center. To learn more about the Horticultural Therapy Program at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital, visit mainlinehealth.org/rehab.

About Our Community Partners

The Urban Tree Connection is an organization in Philadelphia that assists low-income, urban communities in revitalizing their neighborhoods by transforming abandoned open land into community-driven greening and gardening spaces. The Chester County Food Bank collects, grows, purchases, processes, stores and distributes food to those who serve the hungry of Chester County, Pennsylvania. Home of the Sparrow is an organization that provides housing and supportive services to homeless and low-income women who want to improve their lives and become self-sufficient.

About Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital

Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital, part of Main Line Health, is a leader in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation. The 148-bed, not-for-profit hospital offers the full continuum of rehabilitation services, including acute inpatient care, as well as outpatient services for adults and adolescents. The hospital received Magnet® designation, the nation’s highest distinction for excellence in nursing care, and is accredited by the Joint Commission; is designated as a NICHE facility and is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital treats patients with traumatic and non-traumatic brain injury, stroke and other neurological disorders, traumatic and non-traumatic spinal cord injury, amputations, and orthopaedic injuries. Bryn Mawr Rehab Outpatient Network treats individuals with a wide range of conditions and injuries from brain injury, spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease to concussions, pelvic floor disorders and lymphedema. Our outpatient rehabilitation services are conveniently located throughout the western suburbs of Philadelphia.