GLOVERSVILLE — When Richard Beman of Albany came to Fulton Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare for rehabilitation, he didn’t expect the virtual world to follow him.
As a guy who likes video games, he was pleasantly surprised when the facility’s activities director, Lona Bleyl, bought a pair of Oculus goggles for the residents.
Residents who put on the goggles find that suddenly they’re somewhere else — riding a roller coaster, fishing, getting into a snowball fight, swimming with dolphins, or going to the moon.
One of Beman’s favorites is “riding a roller coaster through an old mine,” he said. “It looks like you’re suspended up in the air sometimes racing through the mine.”
“It’s kind of cool because it gives you something to do besides sitting around and being bored.”
Bleyl showed resident Kristjanna Jonsson of Scotia how to use the controller. “I love rollers coasters,” Jonsson said. “It was awesome. It was crazy.”
Bleyl expects to get goggles with even more options, including soothing, calming scenes, including beaches, kittens and puppies, that may appeal to demented residents, giving them more gentle stimulation.
“There are a lot of residents who use them,” she said. The fishing program isn’t just challenging, it’s exercising “because you have to more your arms” to cast a line to catch fish.
Bleyl recently learn about virtual reality goggles at a corporate meeting. She said a confused Russian resident there, who never talked, began speaking — in Russian — after a virtual tour of Russia.
John Mandella, a resident from Glens Falls, played the virtual game in which kids with a bad Santa were throwing snowballs at him, forcing him to virtually duck and dodge. “It was fun,” he said.
“Those goggles really can fool you,” said Bleyl. “I caught a 85-pound [virtual] fish.”
Bleyl expects a visit soon from a company representative that deals in such devices to increase the center’s repertoire of activities.
These kind of devices are new to Fulton Center but learning to use them “is just a matter of playing with them,” Bleyl said.