Gardens and plants have played a central role in the evolution and culture of humans. Plants provide people with the basic necessities of life such as oxygen, food, clothing, fuel, shelter and medicine. In addition, plants in nature refresh our minds, soothe our souls and restore our sense of well being. The relationship between plants and human wellness has been explored by scientists and poets since ancient times. The Horticultural Therapy Services Department has proven the benefits of that relationship for more than 40 years.
Horticultural Therapy at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine
In the mid-1970s, one of the nation’s first horticultural therapy programs began at Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine. Patients of all ages, from all of the Rusk Units, work with trained horticultural therapists on plant activities that help to rehabilitate physical, cognitive, social and emotional functioning to gain a sense of personal accomplishment, productivity, self-reliance and independence.
Patients practice and reinforce gains made in other therapies while propagating plants, arranging flowers, and engaging in nature craft projects. Through the focus on the plants, the patients benefit from the normalizing activity.
The Scope of Horticultural Therapy Services includes:
RUSK AT HJD
Patients benefit from the relaxing nature of horticultural therapy as part of their rehabilitation regimen. Activities are designed to meet their individual rehabilitation goals, reduce stress, and gain a sense of personal accomplishment, productivity and self-reliance. Patients propagate plants, arrange flowers, and engage in nature craft projects. Through the normalizing activity, patients are refreshed and renewed to continue their rehabilitation.
MEDICALLY COMPLEX AND CARDIAC REHABILITATION
Patients participate in horticultural therapy visit they discuss the benefits of gardening, including exercise and stress reduction. Patients work with plants, essential oils, fresh flowers and other “things found in nature” while practicing the skills learned in other therapies. The positive effects of horticultural therapy for the cardiac population were published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine.
NYU TISCH HOSPITAL PSYCHIATRIC UNIT
The program is designed to assist patients building social skills, decision making prowess and confidence. Patients have reported feeling a sense of empowerment and serenity after attending horticultural therapy group.
The department offers periodic horticulture programs to the Aphasia Community Group in collaboration with the medical center's Speech and Language Therapy Department.
Since 2000, the Horticultural Therapy Services Department has offered a horticulture program in collaboration with a number of social service organizations in NYC
AGING AND DEMENTIA PROGRAM
A hands-on activity-based horticulture program offered to individuals living with dementia and their care-givers. This program’s facilitator was awarded “Dementia Care Provider of the Year – 2012” by The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
Patients who are waiting for services or transportation are engaged to replace the stress associated with waiting with the satisfaction of learning something new in a supportive and creative environment.
EPILEPSY UNIT HORTICULTURE PROGRAM
The program on the Tisch Epilepsy Unit is in collaboration with the Therapeutic Recreation Department. As the patients master new skills, they increase their confidence and self-esteem.
Programs for Children
HJD PEDIATRIC INPATIENT PROGRAM
Horticultural Therapy is offered on the inpatient pediatric floor. Children participate in nature crafts such as pressing leaves, arranging flowers and other stimulating projects. Social skills and confidence are enhanced while children practice abilities learned in other therapies.
TISCH HOSPITAL PEDIATRIC ACUTE CARE
In collaboration with the NYU Langone Medical Center's Child Life Program this program for children on the acute hospital unit, their siblings and other family members utilizes projects related to plants and flowers as stress-reducing, mood enhancing activities.
In collaboration with Pediatric Occupational Therapists, multi-sensory horticultural activities are used to entice the children to utilize their weak side to improve function and grasp.
THERAPY BUNNY PROGRAM at HJD
Integrated into the horticulture programs, both children and adults learn handling techniques for our resident rabbits. Petting and feeding these friendly bunnies is enjoyable and stress reducing.
Horticultural therapists from Rusk Rehabilitation facilitate curriculum enhancement for special needs schools.
HASSENFELD CHILDREN’S CENTER
This unique program provides horticulture projects as a respite for children and families living with pediatric cancers and blood disorders