Advancing National Service

Why Is This 92-Year-Old World War II Veteran Kicking Field Goals?

November 4, 2014
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Why Is This 92-Year-Old World War II Veteran Kicking Field Goals?
Ben Atchley State Veterans Home in Knoxville is helping its residents with some new technology for physical therapy. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
A new type of therapy keeps former service members in good shape.

Elderly veterans are working up a sweat as they kick field goals and ski under obstacles at the Ben Atchley State Veterans Home in Knoxville, Tenn., but they’re not having to hit the field or the slopes to do so.

These vets are competing in virtual sports — but the health benefits they receive are real.

Therapists are hooking up veterans to a virtual gaming system that involves their entire bodies in sports-themed movements. When Lori Tucker of ABC 6 visited the nursing home, 92-year-old World War II Army veteran Richard Gallaher scored all of the field goals he attempted.

“It’s a wonderful game because you get all the exercise you can do and it helps you with your balance and thinking and analyzing,” says Gallaher.

Each veteran plays a different game that build specific physical skills they need to work on, and it’s a little more exciting than the average therapy session, with onlookers cheering as the vets score.

Functional Pathways designed the gaming system, which president and CEO Dan Knorr describes as “almost like a Nintendo on steroids.” The veterans home is the first place they’ve introduced the therapeutic gaming system, but the company plans to roll it out at 140 facilities soon.

Greg Channell, one of the Veterans Home’s physical and occupational therapists, tells Tucker, “It’s fun to give back to someone whose given so much to us, and I think that’s a big part of being here.”

MORE: Meet the Marine-Turned-Doctor Helping Veterans Overcome PTSD

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