ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a life altering disease that has affected men and women alike. It affects the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain which causes those diagnosed to lose voluntary control of their arms, legs, and eventually affects speech and the respiratory system. This can be very devastating for families and individuals, resulting in inability to complete functional daily tasks and work duties.
Carla Shearon, now a resident at the Good Samaritan Society in Bloomfield, Nebraska was an LPN and led a very active life. At the age of just 54, in 2008, Carla was diagnosed with ALS and her life was changed in many ways. However, Carla's perseverance and mental fortitude have allowed her to adapt as her disease progressed. She has always been involved with social media, surfing the web and communicating with family and friends on the computer. However, recently her ability to complete these tasks became increasingly difficult, due to her hand function and intelligible speech being compromised from progressive ALS. Due to the stress and incapacity of her recent deficits, she became less and less intertwined in her social media due to the intense difficulty of manipulating phones, keyboards, working her current technological systems, and especially the inability to speak as she once had.
The facility Nursing staff, and Physicians clinic called on BGS Speech therapist Melissa Bowers, to complete an assessment on her communication skills and what might possibly work to improve communication to continue to her passion for networking with friends and family. Various equipment was trialed from ALS in the Heartland to find the most appropriate way to meet Carla's needs.
Through Collaboration with Team Gleason, a laptop and equipment was donated. Since funding for assistive technology can be difficult, this was a lifesaver for Carla. She can now access her computer completely with only her eyes. Carla can surf the web, email, access Facebook, messenger, play games and even control her TV all with her eyes on the laptop. This technology in addition to the help from Speech Therapist and Occupational Therapist, she has been able to maintain contact with relatives and loved ones.
Eric Feilmeier, Occupational Therapist at Good Sam. Has worked closely with Carla on wheelchair positioning to prevent skin breakdown, maintain upright seated posture and head position to allow for proper eye gaze so she can actively move the cursor on the screen to allow her to type her messages accurately and efficiently through use of her eyes, allowing for Independent communication.
Carla has stated, "we are still working on getting everything adjusted just right, it is different than the way I used my lap top. I am able to communicate with someone who couldn't understand what I was saying by typing it with my eyes on here. "She has also said that it makes communication with visitors and staff significantly less stressful since speaking has become difficult for her.
The equipment that Carla utilizes on a daily basis, may be used to address many types of other diagnosis that cause difficulty with communication. These may include those who have suffered a stroke, locked in syndrome, people with Parkinson's who may experience severe tremors and loss of control of arm movement, and those suffering from Guillian- Barre. For more information on ALS please visit ALS in the Heartland, which is a dedicated resource for patients and families with ALS in Nebraska and Iowa. Team Gleason, mentioned above does similar things like Make-A-Wish foundation except for ALS patients. This was founded by a former New Orleans football player who is diagnosed with the ALS in 2011.
For any therapy needs such as Occupational, Speech or Physical therapy, please contact Bloomfield Good Samaritan society. We have a staff of skilled therapist who are motivated and eager to meet any needs in the community and surrounding areas. Contact us today at (402) 373- 5531 to schedule an evaluation for yourself or a loved one.