Blueberry picking benefits Texans recovering from brain trauma

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TYLER, Tex. (KETK) – As the days get warmer, blueberries begin to ripen and fill bushes across East Texas. 

For businesses like the Tyler Blueberry Farm, that means hundreds head through the fields picking berries straight off the bush. 

“June and July, when the kids are out of school, that’s blueberry picking time,” Kent Wiggins, Tyler Blueberry Farm owner, said. 

The activity is typically very popular with families, who turn the event into a tradition. 

Several blueberry lovers enjoy turning the tasty produce into cakes, muffins and pies. 

But for one group of East Texans, the berries serve as more than just tasty treats. 

Michael Shaw, an occupational therapist at NeuroRestorative,  brings patients recovering from trauma out to the farm to help them in several ways.

“Coming out to the blueberry farm is something we’ve been doing for the last seven years because it gives our clients a chance to walk around on the dirt, uneven surfaces,” Shaw said. “They also have a chance to actually use their hands if they need to work on practicing fine motor coordination.”

He also said being out in the sunshine is beneficial as well, as they spend the afternoon away from the hospital. 

Patients like Norbin Solares use berry picking and basket holding as a way to practice using his hands more often and in a precise way.

The group enjoys coming every year and living out Wiggin’s sweet life motto. 

“A handful of blueberries a day keeps the physician away,” Wiggins said. 

The Tyler Blueberry Farm is open Monday through Saturday starting at 7 a.m.

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Aaron Nolan is a morning show co-host in Little Rock, Arkansas with Nexstar Media Group's KARK-TV. He has a passion for social media and makes it an important part of his daily routine. Click here to read Aaron's full bio.