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Going from rehabilitation to Wii-habilitation is the new trend at Alvarado Hospital, where rehab patients are testing their abilities on the video game system that may have permanently changed the way how we think about rehab. For years, video games have encouraged people to sit, but all of that is about to change with the release of the Wii in late 2006.

Alvarado Hospital purchased the Wii in April 2008 and it has been a great success since. "Although the Wii is not recommended for all patients, it can help the appropriate patients regain a number of skills such as endurance, dynamic balance, hand eye coordination, memory, and alertness,” said Tina Truong, occupational therapist.

Desire Foster, a 17-year-old rehab patient, enjoys playing Wii tennis and bowling. "It’s interactive, which helps me regain my essential body functions, and it makes the time spent in rehab go by faster,” said Foster.

On Feb. 8 of this year, Foster was in a serious car accident which caused her to be in a coma for a week. "The Doctors said that I had only a 33% chance of waking up and even if I did, they believed that I would lose my ability to live a normal life,” she said.

Not only had Desiree just beaten the odds by awaking from the coma, but as she started to recover, the physicians told her that she would be paralyzed in her right arm from the shoulder down.

Today, she is not paralyzed in her right arm as they predicted, but instead is using her right hand everyday as she did before the accident. "I believe that by having the opportunity to use the Wii, my chances of regaining control over my arm increased and without this chance I would probably still be paralyzed,” Desiree added.

The Wii has helped a variety of patients get back on their feet, but it certainly does not replace other rehab activities. "It is meant to be an additional tool to enhance the traditional rehab treatment plan," Truong said. "The therapist determines if this would be an appropriate tool to use to work on specific areas of dysfunction.”

Foster was scheduled to back to high school in August to finish her last semester—proud of her accomplishments and looking forward to a bright future.