An Australian-first initiative shows the value of recreational activities outdoors. The ‘Productive Garden’ project offers innovative pathways for participation through rehabilitation and therapy for people with disability.
It was developed by Royal Rehab’s nursing research & development leader, associate professor Julie Pryor who said: “We have been delighted by the response to the project over the last year with over 230 clinician visits with patients for therapy .It is such a multidisciplinary tool and clinicians have used it to help people learn to walk over uneven ground and practice balance in their wheelchair while bending to plant seedlings or weed.” Dieticians also designed signs to educate people about the nutritional value of various vegetables and speech pathologist use it as a conversation starter when helping people to recover the ability to talk, she said.
The project is underpinned by the well-recognised health and economic benefits associated with biophilia (connecting humans to nature) with the aim of demonstrating the physical, cognitive, social and psychological benefits associated with productive gardening.
People with spinal cord injury, brain injury and stroke have all used the garden as part of their rehab in these instances: spreading compost to aid in developing dynamic balance; building trellises helps with dexterity; planting seeds and seedlings assists with increasing upper limb reach and strength while writing labels for plants aids in naming objects and memory.