When stroke occurs, it turns your world upside down. Healing can be difficult, but with early rehabilitation and a commitment to continued stroke therapy at home, you can make a good recovery.
Continuing your stroke therapy after you leave the hospital or rehabilitation center is important for further and lasting improvement of the physical, mental and emotional effects of stroke. It can also help prevent another stroke.
When you’re able and ready, it’s good to think of ways to incorporate everyday, enjoyable activities into your stroke therapy. Whether it’s a new experience or an old hobby, gardening is one activity that can have a positive impact on your whole self – mind, body and spirit.
How gardening benefits stroke survivors
Gardening is a low-impact aerobic activity that is both relaxing and satisfying. This is beneficial for stroke survivors for many reasons. Some benefits include:
- As a form of exercise, gardening is good for the physical side effects of stroke, such as spasticity, fatigue and one-sided neglect.
- Being outside in nature improves your mood, a great thing for stroke survivors who often struggle with anxiety, depression and anger.
- Gardening with a friend is a good social activity that also benefits your mood and can help improve the memory, thinking and communication problems that happen after stroke.
- Working in the garden can strengthen fine motor skills affected by stroke.
One study [on the value of therapeutic gardening for stroke patients] found that patients reported feeling relaxed, useful, proud and hopeful.
Gardening after stroke
Before you start gardening, consider the following:
- Make any necessary changes to your outdoor areas to ensure your safety and comfort when gardening. This could include widening or leveling garden paths, narrowing or removing landscape edging, or installing raised garden beds.
- Garden with a friend – for the help and the social time.
- Stretch to warm up your muscles before you start working.
- Stretch when you’re finished to relax tense muscles.
- Stick to the tasks that are enjoyable.
Lastly, don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun, and drink plenty of water on hot days.
May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke could help you save a life.
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