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Recovery in Bloom

Jun 13, 2017
 

Gardening and Brain Injury BlogThe month of June has been dedicated to raising awareness on brain injury.  Brain injury can take on several forms and result from a number of causes.  Brain injuries can vary from mild concussion to severe coma. 

Increased awareness and advancements in medical trauma care have improved the lives of those affected by an acquired brain injury.  There are many treatments available to improve the quality of life of brain injury survivors including one that is literally and figuratively growing in popularity and perfectly timed with the season, horticultural therapy.

Gardening has a number of healthy benefits, some more visible than others;  it provides stress relief and increases self-esteem; it improves heart health; it keeps hand muscles vigorous and agile; it helps to regulate the immune system; improves mental health; and last but not least the obvious food, nutrition and cost benefits.

Whether planting a flower garden or vegetable garden the same benefits apply. The act of gardening helps with mindfulness and being present in the moment.  It directs focus and attention onto a specific task which can help relieve anxious thoughts by clearing the mind.  This in turn can help relieve stress, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep and aid with mental afflictions such as anxiety and depression.  If the planting occurs in a communal or community garden this also opens up an opportunity to socialize and strengthen communication skills that may have been affected by injury.

Healthy physical benefits include improved strength, muscle tone, flexibility, circulation and physical endurance.  As well, being among plants exposes you non-harmful bacteria and vitamin D which leads to an improved immune system. Once again this type of activity reduces one’s risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Not only is growing your own garden beneficial to the environment but your own mental stimulation as well, allowing opportunities to be creative.  Gorgeous arrangements can be made from a variety of flowers or the next 5-star recipe may come from what is growing in the vegetable garden.

The benefits of gardening appear to spring from a combination of physical activity, awareness of natural surroundings, cognitive stimulation and the satisfaction of the work. Unearthing the benefits of horticultural therapy will aid with not only brain injury recovery but overall health

In the words of English poet Alfred Austin, “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.  To grow a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul”.

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