Effect of Horticultural Therapy on Preventing the Decline of Mental Abilities of Patients with Alzheimer’s Type Dementia
Sonia J. D’Andrea, HTR, MSEd, CTRS, Mitchell Batavia, PhD, PT and Nicole Sasson, MD

The purpose of this study was to determine if horticultural therapy would delay cognitive deterioration among individuals with Alzheimer’s disease living in an urban nursing home. Of 40 randomly selected individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, 20 were randomly selected to attend horticultural therapy sessions twice weekly for 12 weeks and 20 served as a control group. Thirty-eight participants completed the study. At the end of 12 weeks, the horticultural therapy group had an overall higher functional level than the control group (t(36)= 5.7, p < .0005). Horticultural therapy may thus be a useful alternative therapy for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Psychosocial Benefits of Exposure to Natural Settings in Long-term Care: An Evaluation of the
Wellness Garden Program at Glacier Hills Retirement Community

Suzanne Perry Slavens, MS, MPH

The Wellness Garden Program at Glacier Hills Retirement Community promotes the health and well-being of older adults by providing residents with the opportunity to take part in meaningful activities in a natural setting. Through participation in activities such as gardening, natural history lessons, walking groups, and intergenerational activities, residents of Glacier Hills maintain and extend their cognitive and physical abilities, develop social networks, and find emotional and spiritual solace. Qualitative interviews revealed that residents felt time spent in the Wellness Garden was indeed linked to maintaining and improving their personal health and well-being. Residents stated that the Wellness Garden provided them with invigoration, fresh air, beauty, a place to be with family, a chance to forget about illness, opportunities to learn new things, spiritual inspiration, and hope. This informal study points to the important role the environment plays in promoting human well-being. Further formalized research is needed to determine the health outcomes associated with exposure to specific landscapes in long-term care settings.

The Use of Therapeutic Horticulture in Cancer Support
Sheila B. Taft, HTR

Today, a search on the Internet leads to many anecdotal stories and a vast number of articles on cancer and treatment, but there is very little of use to the therapeutic horticulture practitioner for developing programs for people living with a cancer diagnosis. This document presents information gathered from 18 experienced therapeutic horticulture practitioners from the U.S. and Canada who submitted responses to a series of four questionnaires during the years 2004 –2007. Information was gathered on existing programs, safety issues, resources, and the complex issues facing anyone with a cancer diagnosis who then must undergo treatment and/or palliative care. The members of this informal Horticultural Therapy and Cancer group (CNET) hope that this information will be a useful tool to the practitioner and will encourage interest in further research.

Affordances of Ward and Garden in the Restorative Process of Hospitalized Children
Ismail Said and Mohd Sarofil Abu Bakar

This study examines the differences between a hospital ward and its garden relative to the restorative care of hospitalized children. The functionally significant properties of the environment perceived by an individual are called affordances. Restoration is defined as a positive shift of three areas of functioning—cognitive, physical, and social—which are directly influenced by the affordances of the two settings, ward and garden. Behavior responses of 31 patients, indicating their functioning, were elicited from patients and their caregivers using behavioral mapping, interviews, and survey questionnaires. It was found that the garden provided five times more positive affordances and half as many negative affordances as the ward. These differences suggest that the garden effectively shifted the functioning of the patients from low to higher levels—leading to restoration.

Development of Assessment Standards and a Computerized Assessment Tool for Use in Prevocational
Horticulture Training Programs for Head-Injured Individuals

P. N. Williams, C. Kissel Bales, T. M. Waliczek and J. M. Zajicek

The purpose of this study was to evaluate outcome standards between rehabilitation facilities treating individuals with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and to develop a standardized computerized assessment tool for use in prevocational horticulture training programs with TBI patients. The study occurred in two phases. Phase I included a mail survey of head injury rehabilitation facilities to investigate the existing outcome standards of facilities across the United States and a telephone survey of state vocational rehabilitation departments. Phase II included the development and survey evaluation of a new computerized assessment instrument.

The common theme among facilities responding to the Phase I survey was a lack of existing outcome standards for regulating the treatment of individuals with TBI. The majority of respondents used handwritten assessments that contained predominately subjective statements. Therapists gave a 100% favorable rating to the overall appearance of the evaluation form. Respondents felt the advantages of the new computerized instrument to be its neat appearance, automatic computation features, and ability to save time.

Disadvantages of the computerized assessment form included that the current system of assessment was sufficient, the facility lacked a computer, and the therapists thought the computer would be difficult to use and learn. Correlational analysis revealed therapists who wrote treatment goals for their clients were more likely to use assessment instruments to record the individual’s progress and as the number of population groups that the therapist worked with increased, the more likely the therapist was to use computerized assessment forms to evaluate progress. Additionally, findings suggested that newer therapists were more comfortable with the computer assessment instrument and could see potential for future use of this instrument.