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The Fine Art of Rehab

Hallway of art helps those with memory loss

Art can bring back memories. That’s the idea behind the Interactive Gallery on the Inpatient Physical Rehabilitation Unit at UHS Binghamton General Hospital. Patients can visit the gallery, a hallway featuring about a dozen reproductions of paintings by a range of artists, both classical and modern. The art they observe can bring back precious memories from the past, help them deal with emotions and give them an avenue to stay connected to life.

Therapists are able to use the paintings to help patients deal with a wide range of issues, said Linda Wasser, UHS’ Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation director. “Many of the patients on the 20-bed Rehab Unit are recovering from stroke, brain injury or other neurological issues,” she says. “After a few weeks of therapy, they will be discharged back to their homes. Our therapists find the Interactive Gallery to be a very helpful part of the patients’ rehabilitation.”

Our therapists find the Interactive Gallery to be a very helpful part of the patients’ rehabilitation. --Linda Wasser

The gallery is the brainchild of Christina Muscatello, a co-founder of the Memory Maker Project in the Southern Tier. “In addition to cultural programs we have done at UHS, we turned the one hallway in the hospital into an interactive gallery,” she says. In the corridor are signs and cues that can prompt patients’ visitors and therapists to engage in conversations that are then a springboard to enhanced memory.

Ms. Muscatello says: “If you ask someone with memory impairment how many children they have, it may cause anxiety—they may worry about where their children are. But if you show them a work of art with children in it, you can then ask them open-ended questions, and they are free to respond in whatever way they want to.”

 
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For more information, visit the Memory Maker Project.