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Health: Flower Power

stephanie-web Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With the Philadelphia Flower Show in full swing, thousands of people are expected to visit.

3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on the benefits of flowers, and how they’re actually helping local patients get better.

Studies have shown that plants, whether you’re looking at them or growing them, can be a stress reducer. They can also help with physical rehabilitation. A local hospital is embracing this and offering its own version of the Flower Show year round.

Lisa Smith enjoys escaping to the greenhouse at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital.

“It just relaxes you, and it has a calming effect,” Lisa says.

The Montgomery County woman suffered a spinal cord injury after a bad fall in January.

“I couldn’t walk, my legs were pretty much paralyzed. I was classified as a paraplegic when I arrived here at Magee,” explains Lisa.

But now she’s up, and able to walk.

Doctors say patients like Lisa benefit emotionally and physically from the hospital’s horticultural therapy. They plant and do nature crafts, many working on their weaknesses without even realizing it.

“Different levels of water in a watering can is strengthening. You know, different weights in a flower pot is like weights in a gym,” says Jeannette Morrissey, Magee’s horticultural therapist. She says she focuses on each patient’s needs.

Planting can increase range of motion and fine motor skills. Using wire cutters builds strength, and in Lisa’s case, standing while creating helps with balance and standing endurance.

“If I have a distraction like making something, I don’t concentrate and over-think the healing of what’s going on with my legs,” explains Lisa.

There are psychological benefits of flower therapy, too.

“They may pot something like the seeds, and then they might come up next week or two and transplant it. But it gives them confidence and hope. When they leave here, it’s skills they can use.”

Experts say this type of therapy helps with socialization and reintegration. Many pick up gardening as a new hobby when they go home or even join a garden club.

For more on Magee’s Horticultural Therapy Program, visit: http://www.mageerehab.org/page.php?id=949

To donate To Magee’s Horticultural Therapy Program, visit: http://www.mageerehab.org/giving.php

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