ideas for hemiplegic gardener

english_lady(France, Europe)January 4, 2004

Does anyone have any ideas/experience of setting up a garden for someone with left-side paralysis?

A close friend suffered a stroke a year ago and still has no movement in his left arm. He can walk fairly well with a stick but without it his balance is a bit iffy. From a sitting position he could probably do just about anything on a raised bed but we live in an area with hot, dry summers and I'm afraid watering will be a nightmare.

We can use a walled area of about 10 sq yds, triangular in shape. What is the concensus of opinion: borders around the edge or a bed in the middle? Raised beds or not?

And please can anyone give me an insight into what I can reasonably expect him to tackle!

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Raised beds would be excellent for this disability. You can water with the drip waterhoses for ease in watering. Is he right handed? Look on=line for special hand tools. There are some good books out there on this subject. Go to Amazon & do a search. Good luck to you both. There is a Dr at U of Alabama @ Birmingham doing some good work with strokepatients. Some of his results are quite impressive.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2004 at 12:27PM
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Hi English Lady, Did you find any information about your question. When I mentioned Alabama I had'nt noticed where you Essentially what this rehab clinic does is retrain areas of the brain to take over tasks usually controlledby the damaged parts. A therapists might have a person pick up dominoes that are face down & turn them over. for many hours a day. The results are impressive, The film I saw showed a man who had a stroke & had semi-hemiplegia. With in two weeks he could brush his teeth & come his hair with the affected side. Not as smoothly as before but he could. It also showed a fellow who just wante to amputate his arm because it just hung there. He said it was in the way. Two years later he was using a smalle chainsaw to trim tree branches. Pretty awesome stuff. Hope you found some books & information. Don't know why this is such a slow forum. because it could be very helpful.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2004 at 9:41AM
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english_lady(France, Europe)

Thank you shadowgirl for your responses. It's encouraging to know there is someone engaged in my preoccupations. The US seem so much more clued up to optimum recovery.
My friend has had physio for the last year, the last six months being largely a waste of time. Thankfully he has just started on some intensive pool sessions and weights, brought about when someone in the medical chain realised there was a lot of complacency going on - not an unusual story, I'm sure.
Not a lot about gardens, but it's comforting to have a sounding board. Being 'just' a friend I'd feel intrusive writing on a stroke forum.
I've learnt a great deal on the net (whatever did we do without it?) including looking at the Alabama site: astounding stuff. There's also a lot on special tools, etc. but I seem to prefer adapting existing circumstances, I feel it lessens the labelling factor (which I hope is not the same as denial.)

    Bookmark   January 17, 2004 at 11:24AM
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I understand the labeling fear you have. One of the issues that people with disabilities face in how to avoid internalizing societies perceptions. However when it comes to accomadatoions you must remember that many of the tools & accomations developed can be beneficial to all people. A perfect example is accessable public restrooms. Not only do the large stalls allow a wheelchair to enter but they are more comfortable for all people. A perfect example is a mother with several children. Nowadays you don't want to leave your children outside the stall for safety reasons. A large stall solves this problem
The great thinkg about what they are doing in Alabama is you can do many of the exercises on your own. After seeing the videa about this place I became aware how important is is to have patience & let people do things for themselves. My mother had a brain tumor & we often play scrabble. This game board spins on a base & has impressions to put tiles that holds them in place.For a long time doctors told people that after a certian age all brain damage is irreversable & we are finding out that this is just not true. The brain does not regenerate but new pathways or circuits can be laid down to circunvent the damged reions. This is generally done through patterning exercises, which means repetition.
Our natural inclination is to help a loved one when we see them struggling but repetitions are great way to develop coordination & control over spacicity or jerky movements.
An important step in recovery is to move past the loss of the old self. To do this a person & their loved ones must grieve the loss, give up the "what if" fantasies, & deal with the reality of their situation. This is something that we all face if we are fortunate to live a long life into our elder years. You sound like a good & caring friend. What you feel is less about denial & more about the loss of your friend as you knew them to be.

Bless you & hopefully we can chat again,

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 2:39AM
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Woody_Canada(~USz5 - Canada)

I am a left side hemi-paralegic too but I have regained a good deal of movement on the left - I have gross motor control but not fine motor control on that side. It can be very frustrating but you can still manage to do a lot. I'm an avid gardener - I 'garden by the seat of my pants'! i.e. I sit on the ground to garden. I use soaker hoses in all the beds to make watering easier - needs an able-bodied person to help set them up but then I can easily connect the hose for watering. I don't have any raised beds but I do have lots of paths and the beds are narrower than normal to allow me to reach the center from a path. If your friend can get to a 'hands and knees' position, that helps a lot. I have gardening pants with built-in knee pads to make that position easier on the knees! Physiotheraphy is very important to regaining strength and mobility so he should pursue that vigorously. I find heat very hard to deal with so I do most of my gardening very early in the morning, always wear a hat and have a 'cooling scarf' (from Lee Valley Tools - as are my gardeing pants. The scarf has water retaining crystals in it - you soak it in cold water, tie it around your neck and the evaporation helps keep you cool.) Gardening is good theraphy - mental as well as physical so encourage your friend to get out there and garden!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2004 at 4:59PM
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birdz_n_beez(z5-6 NY)

Just thought I would add a bit on the subject. I was an activities person at a nursing home/ rehab unit/ phsyc. unit for 6 years. I dealt with MANY disabilities, new and old. We did gardening every summer, with great success I might add. Our stroke patients (suffering anywhere from mild paral. to almost total) enjoyed it imensely. We fund raised enough money to raise the "raised" beds another 4" for wheel chair, normal chair height. This made them much easier to deal with. Also, we bought those portable potting trays. Those made it easy to work where it was comfortable, and if it had been raining (wheel chairs and canes don't do well in mud), something to keep busy with. Every year we slowly added to what we planted. We had some avid gardeners weep because they didn't think they would be able to garden any more. So basically we worked with what we had, and adapted to change. Of course, change is harder for some than others. =) Hope this helped.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2004 at 10:25PM
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I also work at a center. It's a ccrc located with an arboretum. I'm in the proccess on thinking about designing a raised kio pond. It depends what zone your in and how much you want to spend but both on a budget could work. A heat and a pump can keep it active during the colder months. Aquatic plants are easy to to maintain. There's even a tool on a long handle to cut away the decaying leaves of a water lilies. The fish are very friendly when they get attention and the plants are so well behaved. Oversized conatiners could be around outside and hanging baskets could be on shepard hooks. The wall could have a trellis and some vines. If you were to make the bed out of stone or brick you could work together with the mixing of the cement. There's a round closed barrel that is used for mixing and it rolled. If that something he could work with, he could roll it with his foot and smooth out the concrete when it get to a certain height. A liner can be used with stome or wood. If this sounds way too big of a project then start off with just a barrel style feature. best of luck to you.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2004 at 6:39PM
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