Va. Beach Seniors Use Ping Pong as Mind Therapy

By Virginian-Pilot correspondent ©

VIRGINIA BEACH

 

Stewart returned to the table briefly on Aug. 1, when a therapeutic pingpong program arrived at the senior living community, Westminster Canterbury. He used to play every day, but now at the age of 101 says poor eyesight has kept him away from his beloved sport.The event in Virginia Beach was the brainchild of the nonprofit Table Tennis Charity Foundation, which emphasizes the therapeutic benefits of pingpong to increase awareness and raise money for organizations that help people with brain injuries, Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression and mild to moderate intellectual challenges.The program at Westminster Canterbury was the first in Hampton Roads and included the donation of a table to the assisted-living facility by the manufacturer Kettler.
“The residents have access to all kinds of activities from playing bridge to going to the park and to the movies, but pingpong will be a first,” said Ken Lees, founder of the Table Tennis Charity Foundation. “We’ll have a monthly program with the residents here to keep them engaged with the sport but, more importantly, to keep them engaged with their brains.”

 

Alzheimer’s Weekly featured a study that concluded patients suffering from brain disease who played pingpong regularly saw a boost in brain function and awareness, as well as decreased symptoms of dementia and depression.

 

At Westminster Canterbury, Lees

was accompanied by Virginia Beach neuropsychologist Scott Sautter, who describes pingpong as a game of “aerobic chess.”

 

“It’s great for eye-hand coordination, reflexes, balance, planning, strategy and a stress reliever exercising the mind and body in a safe activity for everyone,” he said.

 

Lees’ 75-year-old father, Larry Lees, took on residents at the table.

 

They included David and Carol Walter, both 75, who have been keen table tennis players since childhood.

 

“We grew up in Wisconsin,” Carol Walter said. “There was snow on the ground. Everyone went in the basement to play pingpong nonstop.”

 

Later in the 1960s, David Walter was so fond of the game he made a table out of a sheet of plywood painted green because the couple couldn’t afford a table.

He described the pingpong initiative as a “wonderful thing.”

http://hamptonroads.com/2013/08/va-beach-seniors-use-pingpong-mind-therapy

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