Saturday, June 28, 2008

Service with a smile

Therapy centre provides a physical, mental boost


Updated 21 days ago

A heart attack and stroke three years ago not only robbed Dora Anderson of her health and mobility, but also stole much of her spirit.

Her outlook has changed since she began visiting the Adult Recreation Therapy Centre about two years ago.

"I really like it here. It's such an optimistic place," Dora, 73, said in an interview at the Henry Street centre.

The ARTC offers social, therapeutic and recreational activities for adults coping with the effects of stroke, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, early stages of Alzheimer disease and other progressive disorders.

"Everyone has a smile.

No matter how bad you feel, they make you feel better," Dora said. "It's something to look forward to. It's a great place."

Her husband, Ron, said that attending the centre has "been a godsend."


He said that Dora enjoys the increased social interaction, card playing and light rehabilitative exercise while he gets a much needed respite.

There is a lot of pressure involved in being a caregiver and all the worries about the details of home-care quickly mount up, he said.

Twice a week, Ron drops Dora off for a morning of activity and therapy.


"It's a good break for me," he said. "When she's here I have no worries at all."

The ARTC operates day programs Monday through Saturday, along with a Tuesday evening program. It also runs full days of programs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Willett Hospital in Paris, recognizing that 25 per cent of clients live in the county.

The centre receives funding from the province, as well as from the Brant United Way, said executive director Lori Santilli.


Most of the clients are seniors, but a few are in their 40s or 50, she said.

"We try to maintain their level of independence," Santilli said.

The centre offers clients a variety of activities and therapies, individually and as a group.

Activities include discussions of current events, reading the newspaper and playing cards, as well as crafts and other recreational therapies.

Even something as simple as a game of bingo can be therapeutic, Santilli said.

Stroke victims often lose not only a field of vision but also the very sense that they have lost that vision. They must be taught to turn their heads to scan from side to side to make up for the lost perception and vision, Santilli said.

Kinesiologist Jan Phillips guides clients through the motions of individual physical therapy that can include stretching, practice walking between a set of parallel bars, exercising arms and legs and even receiving a hot wax treatment to the hands for arthritis.

She also ensures clients are properly positioned in wheelchairs and are using walkers and canes safely and effectively.


The centre's aphasia program offers something extra for people who have suffered damage due to stroke that mars their ability to communicate verbally or to translate their thoughts into words.

Each participant has a binder filled with personal photographs, calendars, maps, drawings, and exercises designed to help them relearn or recognize the words that correspond to everyday objects.

Aphasia patients "know more than they can say, so they need a way to get the message out," said speech pathologist Jan Roadhouse.

Stroke survivor Marianna Wolter, 82, was skeptical about attending the centre's programs at first, but the friendliness of the staff soon changed her mind.

"I came out of my shell," she said. "I really enjoy it here."

For more information, visit or call 519-753-1882.