Ten-year-old Nicole Cahill suffered a severe infection in 2004, leaving her in a coma for twenty-four days. She was six years old. The infection led to a condition called acute disseminating encephalis, which causes brain swelling and can lead to a stroke.
The strokes left Nicole with severe disabilities. She was unable to move, swallow or speak, and spent eight months undergoing treatment in the form of physiotherapy and injections.
Fast forward four years, to June 2008, and Nicole traveled from her home in Ireland to Beth Israel medical center in Manhattan, New York, seeking treatment for her motor disabilities. Before she agreed to the treatment, her mother told doctors that she would not allow it unless they were absolutely sure they could do something for her daughter.
Six months of rehabilitation treatment included the use of Wii Fit. By the end of her treatments, she took her first steps in four years. The game was a key tool for her recovery, as it incorporates both balance and stretch exercises. Her mother stated, “The Wii Fit has really helped. It’s great because there are so many balancing and stretching exercises on it. I also do yoga with her at home, and she does exercises on a ball. The Wii has taken an awful lot of pressure off her as well.”
Nicole received Wii Fit for Christmas and uses it between therapy sessions to keep strengthening her muscles. She returned home on December 14, and is now expected to walk unaided by the end of this year. Her parents don’t have to pay for private therapy sessions any longer, since a Wexford hotel, called Ferrycarraig Hotel, gave Nicole a year’s membership in their leisure centre for free. Her mother believes she’ll be walking unaided sooner than we think.