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Finding Therapy in Unexpected Ways

November 1, 2016

Fishing rods. Hiking boots. GPS devices. Not exactly items you’d associate with therapeutic equipment. Until now.


That’s because Hope Network Neuro Rehabilitation (HNNR) thinks out of the box when developing strategies to improve the lives of people with a brain injury.

Earlier this year David Held, a member of the HNNR Therapeutic Recreation team, began looking at Michigan’s popular outdoor activities as a unique recovery option for people overcoming brain injury. The result was the revival of the former Outdoor Recreation Program.

“My main goal is to get people back to doing what they love,” says David. “This program takes an activity someone is passionate about and turns it into therapy.”

“For example, a man may come to our program and tell me he loves fishing, but can no longer participate in the sport because he can’t tie a hook or cast a line correctly. While this might be true, I can turn these limitations into opportunities. Helping him relearn how to manage a fishing pole not only gets him back on the lake, but also directly addresses his fine motor skills, visual scanning, situational awareness, and problem solving; skills that will carry over into his everyday life.”

Fishing, hiking, hunting, camping, mountain biking – the Outdoor Recreation Program flexes its activities to accommodate each participant’s personal interest and helps rehab patients get back outside doing the things they love. While small group outings may sometimes occur, David primarily works with patients on a one-to-one basis.

“To be referred to the program, each person must be evaluated and approved by their clinical team,” David explains. “I follow a very meticulous evaluation and training process. If there are gaps or concerns we continue training until these are overcome. Safety is always my primary focus.”

David has a lifetime of experience in golf, fishing, boating, hunting, hiking, and just about any outdoor activity you can think of – so, it’s no accident that David leads the program. With Michigan’s abundance of other natural resources, chances are high that he will encounter outdoor enthusiasts at Hope Network.

“There are so many opportunities to help people practice functional skills through activities they enjoyed prior to their injury. One simply has to look out the window to see a range of therapy options. The sky’s the limit,” expresses David.


David has been with Hope Network Neuro Rehabilitation for 13 years. He holds certifications in fly fishing and firearms instruction, has several Michigan Master Angler awards, and holds national record titles in target shooting.

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