A New Approach to Rehab Heals More Than the Body

Posted on Aug 10, 2010

After Marlon Perry injured his knee in a fall last year, the 28-year-old Oakley resident learned he would need months of extensive therapy to regain his mobility. What Perry didn’t realize was that the regimen he would undergo would heal him emotionally, as well as physically.

The Carol Slatten Memorial Rehabilitation Garden at Sutter Delta Medical Center is designed to aid patients in their rehab process through practical therapies such as gardening, golfing, climbing stairs and even—with the help of a real traffic light—crossing the street. An onsite potting garden and putting green, along with boulders, cement sidewalks, and stairs provide patients with real-life situations, but in a controlled setting.

“When I first came here I wasn’t doing too well,” says Perry, who suffers from a genetic nerve disorder. “But the staff built me up and raised my spirits. They see how much help you need and give it to you. The garden helps make you better.” Rehab patient  Marlon Perry  from Oakley

The rehab garden officially opened this past April. Built with the support of the Sutter Delta Hospital Foundation and long-time Sutter Delta supporter John Slatten, the garden was named in memory of John’s late wife, Carol. Countless community volunteers, including local Boy Scout Troop 159, under the direction of Eagle Scout candidate Grant Wilson, worked for months to bring the project to fruition.

“We created this garden with the idea that people of all ages would come here, for physical, occupational and speech therapy,” says Susan Darm, rehab manager for Sutter Delta. “We see it as a place of healing, providing a safe and beautiful environment.”

“Rehabilitation can be physically and emotionally demanding,” adds Slatten. “But when you have something like this, it builds spirits up, and that’s a good thing.”

Collinda Myers, Marlon Perry’s grandmother, credits the success of her grandson’s rehabilitation to the support of Sutter Delta’s doctors and physical therapists and the rehab garden. “This garden inspires Marlon spiritually and motivates him physically,” says Myers. “And that’s really been the difference. The staff is beyond amazing; I can’t say enough about them. Marlon’s rehab would have been a lot more difficult without the help and support of this hospital.”

And while Perry’s therapy is nearly complete, he says he will continue to visit the rehab garden, even when he’s no longer a patient. “I like it here,” says Perry of the cool, quiet courtyard. “There is a lot to do, and I like seeing all the people.”

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