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Grete Patil, PhD; Mona Asbjørnslett, OTR, PhD; Kristin Aurlien, OTR, MSc; Nina Levin, OTR, MSc


Background: Initial rehabilitation after stroke is demanding for patients whose primary aim is to regain their functions. The literature indicates that gardening may provide medical rehabilitation opportunities and health resources. This study explored occupational therapists’ own observations and descriptions on how participation in a gardening group may support inpatients’ initial rehabilitation following acute stroke.

Methods: The authors analyzed notes written by occupational therapists during a 6 month-period that reflected their observations and descriptions after sessions with a gardening group. The therapists were trained in stroke rehabilitation and offered two sessions with gardening groups per week. The sessions were integrated into the occupational therapy program at a residential rehabilitation hospital. The study had a qualitative descriptive design, which included thematic analysis.

Results: Six themes were revealed: possibilities for skills training, engagement in the occupation, mastery of the activity, finding mental rest, connection to past experiences, and shared experiences and hope.

Conclusions: The occupational therapists found that gardening provided clinical opportunities for skills training and health resources. The results are discussed in relation to meaningful occupations through occupational characteristics, such as doing, being, becoming, and belonging. As a group-based, common occupation, gardening may provide a complementary approach in stroke rehabilitation.


The authors report no conflicts of interest to disclose.