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New rehab gym opens at IMH

Patients at the new MINDSET Rehabilitation Gym can undergo sensory therapy, which benefits those with intellectual disabilities or autism, and perform other physical exercises.

SINGAPORE: The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) opened a new rehabilitation gymnasium on Friday (Aug 15).

The MINDSET Rehabilitation Gym consists of a Sensory Integrated Gym, where sensory therapy is carried out, and a Physical Exercise Gym, where patients can perform aerobic and anaerobic exercises.

Sensory therapy benefits patients with intellectual disabilities or autism, who often have difficulty responding to sensory stimuli. "Sensory modulation work helps to minimise their emotional problems and improve their functioning," said Associate Professor Chua Hong Choon, Chief Executive Officer of IMH.

"A lot of times, their behaviour problems is as a result of difficulty coping with sensory stimulus, so when there are loud noises, they cannot cope with it. They may act out or have behaviour problems," said Dr Tan Bhing Leet, Head of IMH's Occupational Therapy Department.

Such problems could cause patients to exhibit inappropriate behaviour.

"Some of them like to receive tactile sensation. They will start touching people, which is inappropriate for the adult age group. So for occupational therapists, we then use a variety of equipment found in this Sensory Integration Gym to address these types of sensory issues to help them to behave more appropriately and reduce their emotional problems," Dr Tan added.

Physical exercise is also crucial as nearly half of all patients at IMH’s rehabilitation centre have a Body Mass Index (BMI) above 23, the acceptable healthy weight limit. According to IMH, patients who lose their excess weight are not only healthier but feel more confident about themselves.

Exercise can also help patients gear up for future employment. The Physical Exercise Gym has equipment similar to those found in other gymnasiums, as this will help ensure that patients can continue working out after leaving the centre, said IMH. 

The rehabilitation gym was converted from a former sheltered workshop with the support of funds by MINDSET Care Limited. The gym is expected to benefit 200 patients a month, who previously had to undergo such treatment on a smaller scale in the wards.

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