New technology gives nursing home patients care, way to have fun

New virtual therapy technology used inside nursing homes is giving patients the care they need and giving them a way to have fun too.

Sally Connelly-Jones is a fighter. A survivor. She suffered a stroke. Beat it. Got COVID-19. Beat that too.

What’s next?

“I miss shopping,” Connelly said.

Jones lives at nursing home Signature HealthCARE Port Charlotte in Charlotte County.

Jones told us the loneliness has been almost as bad as her stroke.

“It was the stay in your room and not go out in the hall, not go outside and breathe some fresh air,” Jones said.

That stroke left her left side numb.

“I really hated therapy when I started because it wasn’t fun. It was very painful,” Jones said. “But you know, the more I work, the harder I got at it. And I said, you know, this is not going to say who I am. I’m going to dictate to it.”

What helped was new virtual technology. It looks and feels like a game, but it’s much more.

“There’s like jackpot. There’s where you have to pull down the lever,” said Alicia Lenfest, the rehab service manager at Signature Healthcare. “So the patient is, you know, using their arms. They can be sitting. They can be standing. They can have weights on the wrist. If it’s a weighted exercise that we’re doing.”

People can compete with each other or play with family and friends anywhere.

“When you have families that are struggling with the therapy progress of someone, we’re able to now bring them in,” said Alec Weitzel, the CEO-administrator of Signature Healthcare. “So they can see with their own eyes what’s going on.”

“It is I think it sort of helped me, mentally and physically because I really felt down and out,” Jones said. “I felt like I was a vegetable.”

Not anymore. Now, every time she lifts, Jones lifts her own spirits.

That new technology called RESTORE went online just before the pandemic.

Because of the lockdowns, the nursing home came up with the idea to connect patients with their families virtually during therapy.

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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