Rehabilitation through Culinary Therapy

“Let Food Be Thy Medicine, And Let Medicine Be Thy Food.” – Hippocrates

Culinary TherapyCooking, as therapy, is as ancient as that saying.  It can be used for every age group and any setting – a patient’s home, assisted living or a rehab facility. Cooking is not only a sensory activity, but it is also physical, social and cognitive as well. Therefore it has applications for Occupational, Physical and Speech Therapy separately and as part of a multidisciplinary approach to patient care.  Meal preparation involves using skills such as balance, range of motion, sequencing, time management, concentration and memory.  Patients with Alzheimer’s, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, stroke, and post orthopedic surgery can all benefit from culinary therapy.

For instance, studies have shown, that Alzheimer’s patients who participate in activities with meaningful connections to their past, exhibit a reduction in some of the negative behaviors associated with the disease.  They manifest less aggression, anger, depression, frustration and are less likely to wander off.  Activities of this type need to be implemented consistently and with regard to each individual’s tolerance level in order to be most effective.  Following recipes and cooking tasks need to be reduced to simple, sequential and achievable steps.  Many soup, salad, cookie and cake recipes, along  with Instant puddings and jellos, can be adapted for use by this population and others.

If you are considering incorporating culinary therapy into your patient’s rehabilitation plan, here are some cooking resources you may find useful:

The American Heart Association Recipes  – Online resource for simple, easy and heart healthy recipes that can benefit stroke victims and others.  The AHA has also produced several excellent cookbooks for children and adults which are available for purchase at the site.
The Dysphagia Cookbook –  For all patients with chewing and swallowing difficulties filled with easy recipes to restore the love of eating.
Heart Rock Cafe III:  More Hits From the Heart Rock – A cookbook of easy heart-healthy recipes from appetizers to desserts that anyone can make.
Home After A Stroke – This blog relates first-hand experiences and practical advice for stroke victims, including cooking tips.

We hope you find these resources useful and welcome your sharing others with our readers.  If you are an OT, PT or SLP who value the use of therapeutic activities in rehab and are looking for exciting new venues to implement them contact the Centra team at:  800 535 0076.

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