A PRACTICAL STUDY REGARDING THE THERAPEUTIC ROLE OF NATURE IN THE REHABILITION OF COMBAT-INJURED SERVICEMEMBERS
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The healing powers of nature have been documented in the past two decades, primarily in the collaboration of health care professionals and architectural/design firms who build hospitals. The relationship between accelerated healing and the patient’s surroundings when nature is consciously made a part of the overall environment of the treatment facility has been impressive. Nowhere is this need more pressing than in the treatment of traumatic combat casualties of returning service members from Afghanistan and Iraq. The irony of the modern age is that the exponential improvement in medical assistance on the battlefield has resulted in a much larger than anticipated population of service members who have survived with amputated limbs and Traumatic Brain Injuries or Post Traumatic Stress Disorders. Thus the military hospitals have been overwhelmed with the need to provide care for these “Wounded Warriors.” Additionally, the revelations at Walter Reed in 2007 underscore the inadequacy of the system to provide a modicum of care to many of these brave young men and women. This Masters Project then attempts to bring the two ideas together to synergistically meld the two concepts of nature as a curative, “eco-therapy,” with the pressing needs of the military hospitals in the treatment of their seriously wounded. Working in collaboration with Naval Medical Center, San Diego, CA and the San Diego National Wildlife Complex of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a pilot program was initiated in 2008 to determine if using eco-therapy would prove beneficial.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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