Laurels outdoor therapy course prepares clients for real-world challenges

Written by Healthy Living News. Posted in Our Community

When clients come to The Laurels of Toledo for rehab following an injury, illness, or surgery, the goal is always to help them regain strength, mobility, and function and then send them home—and back to their normal lives—as quickly and safely as possible. Much of this work can be accomplished in The Laurels’ state-of-the-art therapy gym, but some real-world activities and challenges are difficult to replicate in a gym setting.

To ensure clients are prepared to manage the challenges they’ll soon encounter at home and out in the community, The Laurels has developed a three-season outdoor rehab course that mirrors a variety of real-world activities.

One important feature of the new course is a real automobile, which allows the therapy team to help clients with numerous skills that will likely be put to the test as soon as they’re discharged home. “Using the car, we can work on the upper- and lower-body strength and the various techniques they’ll need for opening and closing the doors and transferring in and out of the vehicle,” says Jennifer Scharringhausen, MS, CCC-SLP, Rehab Services Director at The Laurels of Toledo. “Also, since it’s an actual car, it has a trunk, which allows us to work on everyday activities such as loading and unloading groceries.”

Other features of the outdoor therapy course include a curb to practice stepping up and over, different terrains including both paved and grassy surfaces to navigate, a set of outdoor stairs to climb and descend, and a mailbox to practice retrieving their mail.

Plus, because the therapy team is always looking for innovative ways to incorporate other aspects of guests’ lives into their rehab programs, including their favorite hobbies and interests, the course also includes elements such as a birdfeeder, which allows bird fanciers to practice all the steps involved in filling and hanging the feeder—reaching up over their heads to grab the feeder, lowering it down, lifting the bag of seed to fill it, and then replacing it on the stand. “These are all real-world applications that we wouldn’t necessarily be able to simulate so closely in the indoor environment, and as therapists we’re able to assess how well clients perform these activities so we can work on improving any identified deficits before we send them home,” Scharringhausen explains.

The new outdoor therapy course is just one more example of The Laurels’ philosophy of—and strong commitment to—treating clients as whole individuals, not just as a generic diagnosis or injury. Though it’s a three-season course and we’re just entering the winter season when outdoor rehab may be impractical, Scharringhausen and the rest of the therapy staff are excited about the opportunities the course will present to them and their rehab clients in spring, summer, and fall.

The Laurels of Toledo, located at 1011 N. Byrne Road, accepts Medicare, Medicaid, and all private commercial insurances. A physician’s order is required to obtain outpatient services. For more information, call 419-536-7600 or visit