Going Green

Going Green: How Horticultural Therapy Can Help People Living with MS

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, which results in the loss of muscle control, vision, balance, and sensation.  Recent research has established the importance of daily activities that exercise the body, mind, and soul for those living with MS.

Horticultural therapy is a regular monthly activity at Magee’s Riverfront location for those participants in the MS Healthy Living Program. Participants create and take home beautiful floral and plant arrangements or terrariums each month. Sometimes the therapy activity will coincide with a holiday, such as Christmas, and special arrangements are created. Horticultural therapy is practiced by millions around the world for various reasons, such as exercise, mental solace, relaxation, or self-esteem that is enhanced by the activity itself. Gardening is the number one outdoor pastime in the United States, likely due in part to the fact that it can be an enjoyable and therapeutic activity for anyone, regardless of age, gender, or disabilities. Gardening activities are so many and varied that there is bound to be a gardening activity suitable for anyone, regardless of ability or experience.

For those participating in horticultural therapy, it can be very therapeutic. Gardening can help alleviate depression, improve motor skills, and teach problem-solving.  Additional benefits include social interaction and the development of self-confidence. It’s is a safe, quiet pursuit that provides a respite from everyday stresses.

Magee was recently awarded a grant from the MS Society for wellness promotion in those individuals who are living with MS and who aspire to a healthier lifestyle. The MS Healthy Living Program is a weekly program held at Magee’s Outpatient Riverfront location.  The program aims to assist those living with MS by providing regular educational, recreational, cognitive, and exercise activities. Exercise classes focus on cardiovascular health, resistance training, stretching, and core strengthening. These sessions also incorporate varied activities such as Yoga, Zumba, dance movement therapy, and circuit training. Socialization and stress reduction is enhanced through the use of art and horticultural therapy. The program is held every Thursday from 9 am to 12 noon, followed by light snacks.

If you or someone you know is living with MS, we welcome you to come and join us for this exciting new program. If you wish to register for the program, or if you have any questions, please contact Mary Clare Schafer RN, MS, ONC, CRRN (program director) at 215-218-3905.




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