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New Tech Challenges Mind and Body

Helsinki University Research (HUR) Senso Combines Exercise and Brain Games for a Full-body Workout

When Allissa Raway, fitness center manager at Friendship Village of Bloomington, introduced HUR Senso to residents, she was confident it would be a hit. The dual-tasking platform – something that works brain and body simultaneously – provides both entertainment and exercise. 

“It was intriguing because it was fun, it was games,” said Allissa. “Other solutions felt more clinical.” As Friendship Village of Bloomington’s wellness lead, Allissa had intimate knowledge of the potential benefits a system like HUR Senso could deliver residents. 

“We dual-task all day, every day without even knowing it,” she said, pointing to something as simple as walking and talking. “We lose some of that executive functioning as we age. This machine helps with that part; while you move your body, you do something cognitive at the same time.”

Residents and team members, present and past, have generously supported the General Use Fund to benefit their community. In June, The Foundation was able to provide a generous investment of approximately $16,000 to purchase the equipment. 

HUR Senso connects a large screen to an interactive platform the user stands on. Movements on the platform are mirrored on the display through an ever-changing suite of games that challenge and assess reaction time, memory, balance and coordination.

“It provides a unique opportunity that residents probably can’t get anywhere else,” said Allissa, adding many of the programs focus on combining activities of daily living with balance, something that often accompanies cognitive decline as we age. 

Residents interested in HUR Senso are required to take an orientation class to ensure they can use it safely and properly. To date, approximately 80 residents, or more than 20% of those in residential living, have completed orientation. 

One resident who’s championed the technology is Connie Olson. Living with Parkinson’s, she has found the mixture of matching games and exercises have helped with some of the issues associated with the disease, such as memory and balance. 

“I try to get on every day,” said Connie, who spends about 20 minutes doing a variety of games. Her favorite is hitting the ski slopes, which requires dodging virtual logs and rocks. 

For residents like Connie, fresh content is never far away. New games and challenges are regularly added automatically through Friendship Village of Bloomington’s HUR Senso system.