It’s called BikeAround, and it helps people from retirement homes to travel the world or to revisit places they cherish and remember. Starting as a project, this stationary bike with the Google Street View technology proves to be a great therapy for patients that suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s.
How Does It Work?
It’s a stationary bike that you can place in a room, it has a projector shaped as a dome and the images projected are from Google Street View. The persons will sit on the bike and they can even pedal, making the images move as if they’re watching a video. The users can search and ‘walk’ on their childhood streets, go to the spots where they have beloved memories, and see them in front of their eyes.
Researchers have seen that these experiences helped patients remember some of their memories, their mood was improved and they were more talkative.
This project was brought to life in Stockholm, Sweden, but it also arrived in Canada, thanks to a man from Toronto, George Fermanis. Now, the BikeAround is used at the Carriage House Retirement Residence in Oshawa.
Fermanis has worked in Toronto, in the retirement, home care, and technology sector, and when he saw the video released by the developers of the project, he knew it would help the seniors a lot:
“There’s so much cool technology out there and it always used to skip over the senior sector”.
At the Retirement Residence in Oshawa, seniors have tested the BikeAround. Fermanis said that:
“Memories are very tied to location. So we’ve been able… to spark memory in individuals and really come through with very vivid details and stories associated with those destinations.”
One of the residents at the retirement residence, Douglas Brunton, said that his experience with the BikeAround was incredible:
“Just for me to be sitting here, pedaling down the street that I used to walk down or ride my bike down or whatever, and look at it, it’s amazing all this coming back.” He visits his old schools, shops he used to buy from and his home from when he was a child.
Gerry Platt, the residence’s general manager stated that Brunton told other residents about the project and then others came to try it too:
“They’d come back a day later with another address, maybe where their cottage was, […] so they keep coming back trying different addresses, so it’s special that way”.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.