Thursday, April 21, 2005


Finding a game to play with Patti is a puzzle in itself. Visual and physical impairments are compounded with intellectual symptoms of attention span, memory, and cognitive challenges.


You can intermittently include her in a game you are playing with others. You can play a game for her. The challenge is to play WITH her in a game she can participate in fairly


This past Fall at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Festival I watched some characters playing Bocce. Some roving Italian ‘character’ noticing my interest and listening to my explanation for why he explained to me ‘in character’ that his friends Galileo and da Vinci claimed that playing Bocce “rejuvenates the body and mind”.


Some things take a while to start <grin>. Yesterday, it was 84 degrees in April so why not try Bocce?


The game of Open Bocce is adaptable to any environment. It’s kind of a mix of bowling, pool, and Croquet. What intrigued me about it for Patti is that she throws out the target ball (pallino). Any other outdoor game she has to be moved to some ‘handicapped’ distance from a fixed target. With Open Bocce no visible handicapping is needed. Everyone else has to ‘adapt’ to her target.


How did the experiment work? It was unquestionably “rejuvenating”! I had to finally call a stop to the evening or Patti would still be playing. <grin> It was great to finally see her fully participating in and enjoying a game on her own. Winning straight out was an unexpected thrill for her.


By her throwing out the pallino she basically sets her optimum range and angle of throw. Because of MS vision it may not always be straight, and it may change. We made a minor modification by making the able-bodied people sit down to throw with their weak side hand which is more difficult than you can imagine. Competing against someone who lives in a chair and has been living with MS for 19 years, you quickly discover that as an able bodied person you are in trouble. <grin>


The great thing is all you need is a patch of ground and a bag of Bocce balls.


  1. I used your reasoning recently. Patients in a facility are like everyone else, the visitor is the odd one.  This helped a daughter who was having to put a relative in a facility and having difficult  coming to grips with the problem.  The patient is often so much happier where their problems are not the deplorable situation  but the daily part of life for everyone.  Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  2. If this is the Patrick from University of Maryland so many years ago, I just have to say that as an old friend I am so proud of the man you are. I'm a caregiver to my severely handicapped daughter so I know the joys and frustrations. You are amazing. Patti is so lucky to have you love her so much.


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