The word jumble is the world’s most recognizable scramble word game, but for brain injury survivors, it helps them recognize more than just letters on a page.
Word puzzles are a therapy often used for residents of Mary Cridge Manor, a home support center in Victoria for those working to regain their independence after recovering from injuries that have affected their cognitive abilities.
On May 8, readers of 600 newspapers across North America will challenge themselves to a group-designed word jumble, courtesy of word master David L. Hoyt. The nationally unionized âbrainâ and inventor of the word jumble contacted Greg Goldberg, activities coordinator at Mary Cridge.
“I’m always looking for ways to replenish their lost word library,” Goldberg says. âIt’s my job to involve them in social work, interacting with the community and giving back. “
âEveryone’s really excited,â he says of the residents, who also received a copy of Hoyt’s Giant Word Winder, who created the 9 Ã 9 ground game. The group goes through the puzzle in the city ââto play with seniors in retirement homes and elementary school students.
âBrain injury survivors need a place to be social,â says Goldberg. âThey always think outside the box because they don’t think rationally. They are very uninhibited – one of the results of brain damage.
The self-created word mixes dramatically improved their abilities to use language again, says Goldberg, who explains that the exercise involves formulating different strategies to find different words.
The group meets around a coffee to talk about politics and everyday life, brainstorming fun word games. “The answer [to a word jumble] is always a play on words, so we find the answer first, âhe says. âIt’s a different way of thinking about words and humor is really part of it. “
Twenty years ago, Goldberg was in Ontario on his way to work as a high school English teacher when he was hit by a gravel truck. The accident left him in a coma and it took him almost a decade to recover.
Seven years after taking up his position at Mary Cridge, he says it’s incredibly rewarding to see the progress of the residents at the center.
âI have lost so much and I know how fragile life is,â he says. âFor me, it’s giving back.