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Patients heal through gardening

Last month, a serious mountain biking accident in Jackson Hole sent 22-year-old Jacob Pitt to the hospital.

Pitt sustained some brain damage and a broken clavicle. Now he’s recovering at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center with help from a garden.

Like any other adventurous young adult, Pitt loves the outdoors. After a serious mountain biking accident on the Teton Pass landed him in the Intensive Care Unit at EIRMC, Pitt now finds himself recovering pretty successfully.

“When I get to come out here …. you can’t heal yourself, but you can make these plants grow and that’s really nice,” said Pitt.

Thanks to help from what doctors call an “occupational therapy garden,” patients undergoing rehab like Pitt work in the garden as a way to heal.

“It’s something that’s being used throughout the nation,” said Jessica DiViesti, an occupational therapist. “A lot of patients of all ages like to garden. They like to get out and do those things. It gives them something they enjoy doing that they can do during therapy.”

Therapists said the garden helps patients regain strength and mobility. Planting seeds, caring for the flowers and watering the bed are all activities that work on the patient’s endurance, standing balance, functional mobility and range of motion.

“The purpose is to get out and do something that’s not quite so boring,” said Catie Canavan, an occupational therapist. “Use an activity of daily living and a functional task to engage our patients in something that they might have done at home.”

As for Pitt, the road to a full recovery is looking fairly bright and there’s still one thing he said he can’t wait to do.

“I can’t wait to get back on my bike,” said Pitt. “That’s not the brain injury talking, either.”

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