How a Passat Parked Inside a Hospital Helps People Get Moving Again

May 4, 2017 11:10 AM ET

How a Passat parked inside a hospital helps people get moving again

The mint-green sedan was the first thing you noticed inside the inpatient therapy gym at the Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation. Parked facing a window, with its engine compartment chopped off, the 1978 Pontiac with matching-green vinyl interior looked a bit alien next to the treadmill and staircases – but all are tools that help patients reacquaint themselves with the outside world.

While that car served Siskin Hospital for the past 26 years, Volkswagen Chattanooga thought it could help patients work with a more modern vehicle, by donating a 2016 Chattanooga-built Passat sedan to replace the old sedan in Siskin Hospital’s gym.

“This generous gift will allow our patients to more effectively prepare for life outside of therapy,” said Tod Cain, Siskin Hospital Vice President for Administration. “Having a car that is built to current design standards is an important tool in preparing our patients for life after disability. We greatly appreciate Volkswagen’s collaboration with our mission.”

At Siskin Hospital, patients undergoing physical therapy for life-altering injuries or illnesses depend on the simple exercises and life skills a vehicle allows them to practice during rehab. Using the Passat in daily therapy routines aids patients relearning movements and strengthening muscles as they prepare to face those everyday tasks, including getting in and out of a car, to ensure a successful transition back into daily life.

“One of the first challenges a patient faces when discharged is getting into his or her own car to go home,” said Aileen San Luis, inpatient PT supervisor. “Our therapists teach patients how to do that safely, and the patients love using the new car – they sometimes get distracted from therapy and start checking out the car’s features!”

Devoted exclusively to physical rehabilitation, Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation treats patients recovering from a range of neurological and orthopedic trauma. Since its opening in 1990, Siskin Hospital has treated patients from across Tennessee as the only not-for-profit rehab hospital in the state.

“The 3,000 employees at the Volkswagen factory are so proud to be able to support the patients at Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation with the donation of one of our Passat vehicles,” said Scott Wilson, head of communications at Volkswagen Chattanooga. “Siskin Hospital has provided crucial services for Chattanoogans transitioning back to everyday life and we are thrilled our Passat can be a part of their recovery.”

This Passat is truly changing lives, one patient at a time.