September 25, 2003

Contact: Claire Altschuler
Director of Communications
The Arthritis Foundation, Greater Chicago Chapter
xxx-xxx-xxxx, ext. xx

People with Arthritis Learn To Enjoy Gardening without Pain

The Arthritis Foundation and Abbott Laboratories joined with James Martin Associates, Inc., a landscape architecture firm, on September 6, 2003 to show people with arthritis how to garden with less pain. The event was held on the grounds of James Martin Associates in Vernon Hills and included a presentation by Dr. Bruce Johnson, a rheumatologist with Northwest Rheumatology in Elk Grove Village, who gave an overview of the different types of arthritis and described the new ways they are being treated. Jim Smith, an occupational therapist with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, showed how to use gardening tools to protect painful joints. Participants were invited to pot their own plants using techniques demonstrated by Smith and employees of James Martin Associates.

Nearly 70 million Americans have some form of arthritis, which is painful and often debilitating. Until recently, people with arthritis have often had to give up their favorite activities, such as gardening, because of painful joints. But new tools and methods are allowing them to return to their hobbies and enjoy an improved quality of life.

Participants at the Vernon Hills event were shown how to use a light plastic wagon to bring tools and supplies to their work area without straining their joints. The wagon doubled as a seat. Smith also showed them how to protect their knees with pads when kneeling in the garden and how to use gardening tools in a way that helps prevent ulnar deviation, a common complication of arthritis in which the fingers bend outward.

James Martin Associates staff members showed participants proper potting techniques and provided everyone with pots and flowers to practice the lessons they’d learned. Participants were allowed to take their finished pots home.

“I think the event was really successful,” said Smith, the occupational therapist. The activity of potting the plants allowed participants to “integrate the information” they had heard in the talks, he said.

“It was the best educational seminar that I have been to on gardening,” said Carol Durietz, 54, of Vernon Hills. Durietz, who has osteoarthritis, said she was taught how to hold tools to prevent further damage to her joints. Before the event, Carol said she thought gardening was just hard work, but after the presentation, she discovered it “doesn’t have to be a laborious activity. It can be a fun one—and a healthy one if done right,” she said.

About The Arthritis Foundation

The mission of the Arthritis Foundation is to improve lives through leadership in the prevention, control and cure of arthritis and related diseases. Founded in 1948, it is the only national voluntary health organization that addresses all of the over 100 different forms of arthritis. Arthritis Foundation efforts center on the three-fold mission of the organization: research, prevention, and quality of life. The Foundation currently has 150 chapters and service points nationwide to provide community-based programs and to raise funds. For more information, visit their website at

About James Martin Associates, Inc.

James Martin Associates specializes in providing innovative landscape design and installation services to single-family homeowners throughout Chicago’s northern suburbs. While the firm has earned its reputation for excellence and innovation through its many residential projects, some of its better-known projects include Deerfield Embassy Suites, Loyola Academy, The Cradle in Evanston, Lincolnshire’s WhyteGate Park, Arlington Heights’ North School Park, and Vernon Hills’ Arbortheater Park.

James Martin Associates embraces its responsibility as a corporate citizen by supporting the charitable interests of our clients and associates. Heidi Sibert, a vice president and landscape architect at the firm, is a member of The Arthritis Foundation’s Board of Directors and made the grounds and employees available for the event.

James Martin Associates invites the public to visit its beautiful display gardens throughout the year at their Vernon Hills site. For more information, please call 847-634-1660 or visit their website at

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