Reply Sat 3 Feb, 2007 01:31 pm
calling all seniors !
japanese researchers have adapted the arcade game "whack-a-mole" to get seniors moving .
it's been updated for seniors and its called "whack-a-snake" !
so next time you are getting together with your friends at the seniors centre , invite them to play "whack-a-snake" .
i doubt i'll try it on our canadian (senior) friends - they'll have me certified , i'm sure .

from the japan times :

Saturday, Feb. 3, 2007

Snake-whacking game seen handy in getting seniors to move, stay fit

Kyodo News
Researchers have developed a device based on the arcade game Whac-A-Mole that they believe will help rehabilitate senior citizens who have lost physical coordination or strength.

A researcher tests a device being developed to help rehabilitate senior citizens who have lost physical coordination or strength at Kyushu University Hospital .

Developed by Kyushu University and game machine maker Namco Ltd. and marketed in December, the game involves stomping on snake heads that pop up in rapid succession on the floor.

The device helps stimulate the brain as players use their feet and thigh muscles to play the game, the researchers said.

Shinichiro Takasugi, an instructor in the rehabilitation department at Kyushu University Hospital, initially set up a Whack-a-Crocodile machine in the Chojano Mori day-care center in Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, in 2000 to encourage senior citizens to exercise.

He divided those who came to the center for rehabilitation into two groups -- those who used the game machine and those who didn't -- and measured their body movements for a year.

Takasugi said that after eight months, those in the group that used the machine were showing more agility than members of the other group.

He concluded that game players improved their balance and reflexes by the action of bending forward and striking the pop-up crocodiles on the head with a mallet.

Out of this experience, Kyushu University and Namco developed the game machine that requires players to stomp on the snake heads. The idea was that the aged can avoid falls by strengthening their leg muscles.

Takasugi said 10 percent to 20 percent of the elderly fall down more than once a year and 5 percent to 10 percent of them break bones as a result.

Playing the game with others at day-care centers is also seen as a way to prevent senior citizens from becoming isolated at home. The game also becomes a point of conversation for others who gather around to watch the players.

Namco, which previously targeted a younger market for its machines, has begun to shift its attention to the elderly, who are rapidly increasing in number in Japan and other countries.

The company started operating a day-care center called Kaikaya in Yokohama's Minato Mirai district in October 2004, and another in Ayase, Kanagawa Prefecture, in April 2005. It has installed game machines, including one called Taiko no Tatsujin (Master of Drumming), that was remodeled to suit senior citizens undergoing rehabilitation.

source :
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