Alzheimer's and Dementia Table Tennis Therapy Program
Submitted by: Sport and Art Educational Foundation Category: Caring for Jews in Need
The Big Idea
The Sport and Art Educational Foundation (SAEF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization currently dedicated to improving the health and wellness of those in the West Los Angeles Jewish community. With headquarters in the Westside Jewish community center, SAEF operates the Alzheimer's Table Tennis Therapy Program where instructors work with Alzheimer's patients along with patients with other forms of dementia, to improve their overall well-being through a carefully supervised games in table tennis. An article about our program was recently featured in the Jewish Journal: http://www.jewishjournal.com/50_Plus/article/pingpong_therapy_brings_net_gains_to_alzheimers_patients_20110125/ Our work at SAEF is based on a Japanese clinical study that has demonstrated table tennis uniquely activates as many as five separate portions of the brain simultaneously - thus producing an increased awareness and improved state of cognition in the participants. Brain-disease patients with a ping-pong-based rehabilitation program displayed decreased dementia and depression. With this mind, we have sought to develop ourselves and the program to benefit those suffering from these illnesses. In keeping with our goal of improving the wellness of those in the Jewish community, we have taken the unprecedented step of expanding our program.
Heller, Rachel. "Betty Stein, 91, has been coming to the Gilbert Center for about seven months. Since starting lessons, she's been eating more and remembering more of her activities, has better balance when she walks, and is more talkative, said her caregiver, Flor Narvaez." - The Jewish Journal. 24 Jan. 2011 SAEF Table Tennis Therapy Program has provided the opportunity for all of our patients to participate in this activity at a level suitable for their individual circumstances. Patients in SAEF program have shown remarkable improvement in both cognitive awareness and increased physical movement. Further, since the activity is also fun and very social in nature, their general depressive states are often relieved. All of the patients, whether familiar with the game or not, have benefited greatly.
SAEF operates during the hours of nine AM to three PM, Monday through Saturday. This time is devoted to working with patients through supervised games in table tennis in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease as well as with patients with various forms of dementia. As part of the ongoing Alzheimer's Program, the SAEF also now provides equipment and personnel (tables, paddles, coaches, etc.) and conducts the table tennis therapy at various senior facilities. Our goal is to continue offering those in need with the opportunity to benefit from SAEF's Table Tennis Therapy Program and to expand our outreach capability by providing tables, equipment and instructors to assisted living and patient care facilities throughout the Southern California community.
Our ultimate goal is to provide an extraordinary therapeutic experience to many more who have lost so much through this tragic and mysterious disease as well as to those whose lives have become inactive “ and offer them a sense of hope for a future they may still own.
This Is A Great Idea Because
We have the unique distinction of being the only organization in the United States currently utilizing table tennis as a beneficial therapy program for patients with early stage Alzheimer's and various forms of dementia. In the absence of established examples, we have had to chart our own course. Our dedicated SAEF professionals, coaches and staff, have come together to create a tour de force of skill, compassion, and unique one-on-one supervision, and our results have been remarkable.