College students from the Oklahoma Christian University are helping an ALS sufferer communicate with his wife again. Sixty-four-year-old Carl Phelps from Oklahoma was diagnosed with bulbar onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in April 2015. The disease’s first symptoms appear in the mouth and many patients experience problems talking, eating and eventually, breathing.
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According to a report on today.com, Carl’s speech deteriorated quickly, forcing him to use written and sign language as a way of communicating with his family and friends. But as ALS took hold, he lost the use of his hands so he no longer had any way of communicating.
Carl and his wife Janice met a group of students at an ALS support group who were building an affordable eye gaze communication device, using computers and eye trackers to allow patients to pick out words on a screen. Carl agreed to be a tester for the VisuALS device and has been providing valuable input to help the team improve the design. He’s come up with some useful phrases and a pause button to allow patients extra time to think about what they want to say. He is now able to tell his wife how much he loves her on a daily basis.
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