As the weather turns, the warmth of spring holds the promise of outdoor activities. One of America’s favorite leisure activities is gardening which can be difficult for those with limited movement or stamina. Occupational therapists help people engage in occupations, like gardening, that make life more meaningful.
During Occupational Therapy Month, Audubon County Memorial Hospital and Clinics share the benefits Occupational Therapy (OT) can provide. Occupational therapists help people of all ages participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). OT can help with wrist/hand orthopedic injuries, driving evaluations, pediatric neurodevelopmental therapy, and custom splinting/orthotic fitting for upper extremities’.
ACMH Rehabilitation Services Director, Katie Glade, DPT, mentions that occupational therapy benefits those that have neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis, lymphedema, musculoskeletal disorders, upper extremity injuries, developmental delays and/or learning disabilities, and anyone experiencing difficulties functioning in their daily activities.
Katie Glade reinforces the importance that with the help of OT, individuals can improve their quality of life. “Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants play an important role in the restoration of function for the patients they see and provide the necessary tools and education to allow the patient’s success for the activities they need to be able to return to.”
In the meantime, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, Kristi Pottebaum, COTA who sees patients at ACMH, offers the following tips that can help make your gardening tasks a little easier and more comfortable this spring.
- Protect your joints. Choose implements with padded handles to protect joints from excess pressure. Spring – action, self-opening shears or Clippers help if you have a weak grasp.
- Conserve energy. Sit while working to conserve energy and decrease stress on your back, knees, and hips. Use a kneeler seat, to help you rise from a kneeling to a seated position. Take rest breaks and stop work before you become overtired. Limit lifting. Watch out for those heavy bags of soil, mulch, or fertilizer. Divide the bag into smaller, more manageable loads and use a cart or wagon. When lifting, use the muscles in your legs and not your back.
- Think small. Start with a small garden plot near your house and water supply that you can manage. Choose lightweight or coiled hoses for less stress and wear on your body.
- Mix it up. Vary your tasks to avoid over stress to one part of the body. Change your position frequently to keep from becoming stiff. A tight grip for extended periods can cause swelling in the hands and arms. Kneeling for prolonged periods can cause back strain and knee pain.
If you have any questions about Occupational Therapy, please contact the ACMH Rehabilitation Services Department at 712-563-5314.