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There are countless ways to provide senior adults with rehabilitation therapy after surgery or an injury, but such modalities don’t usually involve a trip to the racetrack. Village Shalom’s Wang Rehabilitation Center recently devised a way for several short-term-stay residents to combine a treatment session and an outing to the NASCAR qualifying trials at the Kansas Speedway. More than simply a day at the races, it was an opportunity to experience physical and mental activity that incorporates real-life activity, with an added element of fun.
“We’re really big on thinking outside the box,” explained Jessica Williams, Village Shalom’s therapy coordinator. “We want to get our patients outside the four walls (of the rehab center) and have them do more than just kick their legs 20 times. While that is important to help them build strength, we want to do more than that.”
The idea for an outing to the speedway originated with Village Shalom’s director of nursing, Tina Munger, who had conducted a similar therapy-related activity several years ago at another long-term care facility. Village Shalom’s therapy department immediately latched onto it as an opportunity to combine multiple therapy exercises into an exciting excursion.
“We had them walking on uneven surfaces and parking lots, walking around curves, and navigating ‘community distances’ (large public spaces),” said Williams. Additionally, the outing offered a variety of therapy-related exercises such as standing and balance tolerance (standing in line) and even money management (making change at the concession stand). That last one is “good for occupational and speech therapy,” Williams noted.
“We have a lot of people – whether they’re in rehab for two to three weeks, or two to three months – who are used to being active in the community,” she added. “We want to get them back to where they can function at their previous level. Getting them outside to an activity like this really helps their motivation.”