In Memory of ALS Activist Patrick Quinn

Patrick Quinn, co-founder of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, has passed away at age 37.  He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) shortly after his 30th birthday.  He partnered with Peter Frates, an ALS activist and captain of the Boston College baseball team, to create the Ice Bucket Challenge.  The fundraiser – where participants were challenged to post a video of themselves dumping buckets of ice water over their heads – raised more than $220 million for ALS medical research and garnered the attention of celebrities including Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.

The staff at Accessibility Services, Inc. even joined in on the fun, raising money for the cause and posting our own Ice Bucket Challenge video:

ALS is now one of the most recognized diseases on the planet, thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge. The impact Mr. Quinn made in the fight again ALS continues as medical researchers make strides in developing new treatments as they progress toward finding a cure.

We salute you, Mr. Quinn.  You may be gone, but your legacy and work toward finding a cure for ALS will continue to live on. Thank you. May you rest in peace.

View Quinn for the Win Facebook Page.

ALS and Speech Loss

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurological disease. Approximately 10% – 15% of individuals with the disease present with speech difficulties as their primary symptom. Issues with speech often begin gradually with the ability to speak degrading as the disease progresses.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ALS, it is important to consider an ALS communication device with voice banking capabilities. This allows you to “bank” your voice, tone, messages and unique expressions while you still have the ability to speak.  Your voice can then be re-created as your need to communicate through voice assistive technology becomes necessary.

Let’s take a look at some ways ALS can affect speech.

Breaks or Interruptions While Speaking

ALS can cause breaks or interruptions while speaking. These “breaks” can happen frequently, making it very difficult for others to understand.

“Nasal” Sounding

We all know what it sounds like when we have allergies or a cold. A person with ALS may sound very “nasally” even without having allergies or cold.

Slurred Speech

Slurred speech is difficult to understand and is one of the tell-tale signs of disease progression.

If you’re searching for an ALS communication device with environmental control, Accessibility Services, Inc. (ASI) has you covered.  Our signature autonoME is a custom environmental control unit (ECU) and speech generating device combined in a single, convenient package. The autonoME’s user-friendly interface and ability to operate using multiple input methods make it one of the most sought after ECU devices on the market today.  Additionally, the autonoME’s voice assistive technology features include voice banking and full augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), making it perfect for ALS communication.

If you have been diagnosed with ALS and are concerned about loss of speech, we can help. Give us a call to learn more about the autonoME today.

 

Veterans and ALS

As we have discussed in a previous article, those who have served in the military appear to be at a higher risk of developing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  Additional studies point to the possibility that military veterans with the ALS may live longer than the average life expectancy of someone diagnosed with the disease (long-duration ALS).  The study also found that veterans with long-duration ALS experienced onset at a younger age, tended to experience slower initial progression, and took longer to diagnose.

Read the Full Study

Accessibility Services, Inc. (ASI) was founded by Fred Thompson in 1991 with the primary mission to help veterans.  ASI has been on the forefront of developing assistive technology for quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating diseases such as ALS for nearly three decades.  Our proprietary autonoME is one of the most popular tools for quadriplegics and those with ALS because it is a combined custom environmental control unit/speech generating device.  Advanced voice assistive technology features such as voice banking and full augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) make it a much sought after ALS communication device.

Although we have expanded our reach over the years, we still take our commitment to military veterans very seriously.  Not only do we employ many veterans, but we have installed our autonoME in Veteran’s Administration (VA) spinal cord injury units and have also worked with veteran’s who qualify to receive the autonoME through their VA benefits.

If you or a loved one is a veteran who has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), be sure to talk to your local VA representative about the autonoME. Give us a call to learn more today!

Protecting Your Family From COVID-19

(part two)

We are continuing our series on tips to help protect your family from COVID-19. Our previous article discussed monitoring local health department recommendations, wearing a mask, and showering and washing clothes after being out in public. These tips are especially important as quadriplegics and individuals with chronic diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are especially vulnerable. If you or a loved one have any health issues or underlying conditions it’s important to read our series of articles and follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations on how to best keep you and your family safe.

Focus on Staying Healthy

It is extremely important for you to focus on your own health. Make sure you are eating healthy, getting some exercise and taking care of yourself.  Go outside to get some fresh air or take a walk.  Participate in a virtual exercise or yoga class. Maybe even explore options for safe and engaging activities to help decrease stress.

Alert Your Physician if Your or Your Loved Ones Show Any Signs of Being Ill

If you or your loved ones show any signs of being ill, contact your physician right away. COVID-19 is especially dangerous for quadriplegics and those with chronic diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and multiple sclerosis.

Have a Backup Plan if You Become Ill

If you become ill, you will need to focus solely on yourself to get better.  Avoid having to worry about your loved ones care by having a backup plan should you become ill. You can do this by briefing neighbors, friends or other family members about your loved ones care.  Who comes in to provide personal care services? How often?  What medication do they need? Make sure this is written down and accessible should something happen to you.

Accessibility Services Inc. (ASI) is a leading provider of assistive technology for quadriplegics and individuals with chronic diseases such as ALS and multiple sclerosis. Our signature autonoME is a combined custom environmental control unit / speech generating device that incorporates voice assistive technology. If you would like to learn more about our tools for quadriplegics and individuals with chronic diseases we would love to talk to you! Give us a call to learn more today.

 

 

Neither ALS Nor Covid-19

As a premier provider of assistive technology for quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating diseases, we work with many clients affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). So, when a story like this catches our eyes, we feel compelled to share!

Jim Hilliard is a retired orthopedic and sports medicine surgeon diagnosed with ALS in 2018.  His son, Sam Hilliard, is a rookie outfielder for the Colorado Rockies.  Although COVID-19 is keeping fans out of baseball stadiums nationwide, Hillard and his wife Tamara were able to watch their son play live.  Team management granted special permission for the Hilliard’s and their daughter-in-law to attend an exhibition game and the Rockies first game of the season.

Hilliard made is major league debut last August and has been working to raise money for ALS research ever since. His mom, a former Miss Texas, has played an integral role in these efforts.

Read More

At Accessibility Services, Inc. (ASI), we continue to be inspired by stories like these.  Nearly three decades ago, our founder, Fred Thompson, founded ASI to help those with disabilities become more independent. Today, ASI is a leading provider of assistive technology for quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating diseases such as ALS. In fact, our autonoME – a combined environmental control unit / speech generating device with voice assistive technology –  has become a preferred ALS communication device for individuals throughout the country affected by this devastating disease. If you would like to learn more about how the autonoME can help you, your loved one or patients, give us a call to schedule a consultation today!

Family Members, Caregivers and COVID-19

(part two)

We are continuing our series on keeping your family safe during COVID-19. Our last article discussed the importance of monitoring local health department recommendations, wearing a mask and showering/washing clothes after being out in public.  Today we will look at three more ways to help keep your family safe.

Sanitize and Disinfect Regularly

Be sure to regularly sanitize and disinfect items in your home on a daily basis.  This includes wheelchairs, lifts and any type of assistive technology for quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating diseases (i.e. ECU units, speech generating device, etc.).

Schedule Virtual Visits

Isolation during COVID-19 is contributing to the rise of anxiety and depression.  While it may be tempting to take your loved ones out of the home, consider setting up regular virtual visits with family and friends instead.  Not only is this safer than an in-person visit but having set times to talk each week may be therapeutic for everyone involved.

Closely Monitor Caregivers

Be sure to monitor the caregivers who come in and out of your home.  Anyone providing any type of care to your loved one should wear full personal protective equipment for their safety and yours. It’s easy to become complacent.

Accessibility Services, Inc. is committed to providing quality tools for quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating illnesses during the COVID-19 crisis. Our signature autonoME is a combined environmental control unit (ECU) / speech generating device designed to offer environmental control and voice assistive technology in one convenient package.  Our revolutionary autonoME Hospital takes this one step further as it is a hospital ECU and speech generating device with a fully integrated television experience.  Give us a call to learn more today!

Keeping Your Family Safe From COVID-19

(part one)

Quadriplegics and individuals with chronic diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis (MS) are especially vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19.  If you or a loved one is a quadriplegic or has a chronic disease, it is more important than ever to take extra precautions. Our next series of articles will highlight some ways you can help keep you and/or your loved ones safe during this difficult time.

Monitor Local Health Department Recommendations

COVID-19 cases differ by state and county.  It is important to monitor what local health departments are saying about COVID-19 in your immediate area.  Perhaps there are few cases in your zip code, but that can rapidly change.  Following the recommendations of your local health department in addition to state and federal guidelines is the best way to keep you and your family safe.

Wear a Mask

Even if you live in an area that does not mandate wearing a mask, caregivers and family members should consider doing so when they are out in public and while they are tending to the needs of a person with a disability or chronic illness. This is especially important because your loved one may not always be able to wear a mask around you, especially if they rely on an input method such as sip and puff to operate their custom environmental control unit (ECU) / speech generating device.

Shower and Wash Clothing After Being Out in Public

Any time you are exposed to the public (i.e. grocery shopping, work, doctors office, etc.) you should immediately take a shower when you return home.  It’s also not a bad idea to wash your clothes.

Accessibility Services, Inc. (ASI) is a leading provider of assistive technology for quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating diseases such as ALS. We care about the individuals we serve as if they were family!  We are continuing to install our signature autonoME (combined environmental control unit / speech generating device) in private residences, hospitals and long term care units throughout the United States.  Our technicians take extra precautions to ensure the safety of everyone around them.  Whether you are in need of ECU hospital units for your facility, or an individual seeking to gain more independence, we can help. Give us a call to learn more today!

 

custom environmental control unit/ALS communication device

The National Institutes of Health announced a five-year, $25 million investment in a new program aimed at incentivizing additional research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disease that has no cure.  It affects the motor neurons in the spinal cord that control voluntary muscles, eventually paralyzing these muscles including those used for speech.

This new program promoting ALS research is especially encouraging as researchers strive to better understand and find a cure for this debilitating and devastating disease. While there is currently no cure for ALS, there are FDA-approved drugs that can help prolong the lives of those diagnosed with the disease.

Learn More About NIH ALS Initiatives

Accessibility Services, Inc (ASI) actively monitors ALS research.  We are continually evolving our custom environmental control unit/ALS communication device known as the autonoME to meet the changing and growing demands of our customers. ALS assistive technology such as the autonoME improves quality of life thanks to its environmental control and augmentative and alternative communication capabilities.  The voice assistive technology features of the autonoME are particularly impressive because they allow individuals in the early stages of disease to “bank” their voice.  When they lose their ability to speak, the autonoME allows them to communicate using their own voice and unique expressions, sayings and tones.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, there is hope.  The same assistive technology for quadriplegics has also proven successful with helping individuals with ALS control their environment and communicate with loved ones and friends.  Give us a call to learn more about the autonoME today!

Students Working to Improve Quality of Life for Those with ALS

We are always encouraged and impressed when we hear stories of student researchers diligently working to help improve the lives of quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We stumbled upon a very uplifting story out of Washington State University where a student bioengineering team has designed a mattress specifically to help those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis get more comfortable and restful sleep.

The students call their invention the Zephyr Mattress, and it includes numerous pressure-sensitive oscillating cells designed to produce different surfaced and varied degrees of firmness.  The design is still in its testing stages, but the team soon hopes to obtain a patent for the mattress and start a company.

Accessibility Services, Inc. (ASI) knows first-hand what it is like to have an idea that helps others.  We are now considered a leader in ALS assistive technology, providing ALS communication and environmental control options for individuals with all levels of disease progression. Our signature autonoME is a custom environmental control unit and speech generating device with voice assistive technology. What makes the autonoME such a popular ALS communication device is the fact that it can be controlled using different input methods. Perhaps when an individual first begins to need voice assistive technology, they are able to use touch as the input method.  As the disease progresses, they may need to control the device using an alternate input method such as eye gaze or sip and puff. The autonoME is designed to accommodate disease progression.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, we welcome the opportunity to talk with you.  The ALS assistive technology available can significantly improve quality of life and communication with caregivers and loved ones.  Give us a call to speak with one of our product specialist today.

Identifying Medical Scams Associated with Chronic Illnesses and Quadriplegia

(part two)

We are continuing our series on identifying scams associated with chronic illnesses and quadriplegia.  Quadriplegics and individuals with progressive diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are sometimes targets for unscrupulous individuals hoping to make a quick “buck.”  Our previous article touched on red flags such as promises of a quick fix or cure, money back guarantees and products/medications that are not backed by medical facts.  Today we will look at three more signs that indicate a possibility of a scam:

Scientific Breakthrough

Any product, pill or service that touts a “scientific breakthrough” should be thoroughly researched as this is terminology that is commonly used in scams.  If you are considering purchasing a product that mentions this terminology, be sure to run it by your physician first.

Miraculous Results

“Secret”, “Miracle” and “Breakthrough” are also examples of red flag terminology.  Be aware of any product, pill or service that uses these terms in advertising and promotions.

Cures Multiple Diseases

Beware of any product, pill or service that claims to cure multiple unrelated diseases.  When a true cure for a disease such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or multiple sclerosis is discovered, your doctor will know about it.

Accessibility Services, Inc. has been a trusted and leading provider of assistive technology for quadriplegics and individuals with chronic diseases for nearly three decades.  Our signature autonoME is an integrated custom environmental control unit/speech generating device equipped with voice assisted technology to help individuals interact with their surroundings and communicate with caregivers and loved ones.  Therapists and other industry medical professionals trust ASI to provide innovative and user friendly assistive technology for quadriplegics and individuals with progressive diseases. When you choose ASI, take comfort in knowing that each of our professionals truly cares about every individual we serve.  If you or a loved one are considering a custom environmental control unit and/or voice assistive technology, give us a call. Our family is here to serve yours!