We tend to take our abilities for granted. Scratching a mosquito bite, calling out to a friend across the street, running for a bus, licking an ice cream cone…these are all simple daily activities until one finds he no longer is capable of performing these previously effortless actions.
Muscular movement is controlled by the neurological system. Motor neurons ‘tell the muscles what to do’. But if they don’t? That is when we begin to realize just how complex our bodies are. A person finds he can no longer perform actions that have been part of his life since infancy.
This is what happens in ALS. The motor neurons are gradually lost and the muscles they control become weak and then non-functional. ALS stands for amyotrophic (without nourishment to muscles) lateral (affecting the side of the spinal cord) sclerosis (the hardened nature of the spinal cord). Its onset is gradual and, at first, the symptoms are merely annoying: dropping things, tripping, perhaps slurred speech. Slowly, other muscles become involved including those that help us breathe. Up until five years ago, life expectancy was short with death often due to respiratory failure and lack of ability to ingest nutrition but due to recent technological advances in prolonging life, some ALS patients can now live for decades.
The question then arises regarding the quality of life of these patients. A typical end stage Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis patient is not mobile at all. He lies in his bed or recliner, unable to lift his arm to reach for a tissue, unable to swallow food, unable to ask for a drink. He is completely dependent on his caretaker for every need. Continue reading When ALS Robs Its Victim of Every Skill He Had
Google.org has announced the allocation of grants to promote technological innovations that will make the world more accessible and focus on solutions for people with disabilities.
Ezer Mizion was chosen by Google for its project with Click2speak, an Israeli start-up, to develop an on-screen eye-tracking operated keyboard that will enable people with high cognitive function and limited mobility to communicate and control their environment. Continue reading Google Chooses Ezer Mizion
Do me a little favor. As you read these lines, look up for a moment and say something. Out loud. For instance, “Pizza with olives.” Someone will come into the room in a panic and ask if you lost your mind. You will laugh aloud and say: “It’s nothing. Just that weird Arieli with his nonsense. Everything is fine.”
Communication. This handy word that we instantly associate nowadays with an exclusive interview with a government minister or a strike by workers at the TV channel or a news bulletin. We’ve almost forgotten that it also has a basic meaning, more basic than any other: The ability of man to maintain a connection with those around him. To benefit from others, to give to them, to ask, to express emotions, to reflect other people’s emotions. To live. That is what you did just a moment ago. You produced a sound. Someone asked you something. You answered. That is how human society lives.
We have almost forgotten that some people lack this basic ability. Ezer Mizion National Headquarters. Fourth Floor. The Speech Generating Device Lending Center. Ezer Mizion’s remarkable place for technological solutions for the speech impaired, one of only three of its kind in the entire world. This floor of Ezer Mizion provides responses for the almost infinite spectrum of people who were not gifted with – or lost – the ability to communicate with those around them through speech.
Just before, they brought here a 43-year-old fellow, precisely my age. Continue reading Speak for Yourself by Kobi Arieli
My son Ahrele moved to Beitar, and I am planning on attending the housewarming party. I am planning… but my family has other plans. I announce my intentions and immediately receive the typical reactions: Mommy, why do you have to travel out there? It’s a big effort for you. Just call him up.
Communication is taken for granted by the average person. He can enter a store and ask for a coke.He can say ‘excuse me’ and be allowed to pass. He can express his anger when treated unfairly. For some, though, it is not so simple. A stroke patient, an accident victim, a child born with a genetic disorder may be cut off from human communication due to his inability to speak.
Technological advances have enabled innovative devices to be used to provide the patient with the ability to communicate. He may use his finger to point on a communication board. He may touch a selected square on a touch screen or he may type on a keyboard to make his needs, his thoughts and opinions known to others. Continue reading Gates of Prison Unlocked