Living with ALS: How record helps Hollister Lindley understanding with a ravages …

December 29, 2014 - als

Like a relentless tug-of-war opponent, ALS keeps pulling Hollister Lindley and there is tiny she can do to reason her ground. Amyotrophic parallel sclerosis is softened famous as Lou Gehrig’s disease, though before it became synonymous with a famous ball actor 75 years ago, it was famous as a wasting disease. And that’s what it’s spin for Lindley.

As her nerves continue to trouble-maker and afterwards die, so do a muscles they control. In Lindley’s case, a tiny muscles have succumbed initial — in her fingers, hands, arms and, finally her legs. She’s no longer means to request makeup by herself. Getting undressed is possible, though putting garments behind on is apropos impossible.

To assistance her in tasks both large and small, Lindley relies on a operation of assistive record devices. While ALS stays an incorrigible distress for now, advances in computer-assisted communications and other technologies have severely softened a peculiarity of life for those with a disease.

“Some of it is so ridiculously simple,” Lindley says while holding a debate of her Richmond residence in her motorized wheelchair, that she can control with one palm regulating a joystick and keypad. “I can no longer reason on to a fork, so we have a device that goes on my palm that binds a flare that allows me to eat. we have 3 of them.”

Later, after relocating to a recliner, she continues. “This chair will mount me up, so we don’t have to use my legs. The biggest square of adaptive record to me, really honestly, is a bidet given it washes and dries and my hands can’t. Travel is really stressful given I’m perplexing to figure out what I’m going to do though my bidet.”

Her ability to eat is closer to that of a 3-year-old than someone who has lived 63 years, as has Lindley. Food contingency be cut into chewable bites and placed on non-breakable dishware. Lindley uses a cosmetic image that looks like a image though has an towering shallow on one side, so she can trap her food opposite it, stalk it with a flare and lift it to her mouth.

Lindley has singular use of her left hand, though her right palm is all though useless. She can still mount and pierce herself from her motorized wheelchair to a recliner, her bed and bathroom. But it’s apropos some-more and some-more challenging.

“I can no longer showering myself; we can’t scrub,” she explains. “If my left arm itches, we can’t blemish it. we am perplexing to keep a fingers from clawing adult given this is a usually useful hand,” she says, indicating her left one. Motioning to her other hand, she adds, “This one usually hangs there. It can’t claw. It doesn’t have any muscles left.”

It’s been some-more than 6 years given Lindley began dropping things, and some-more than 3 years given her ALS diagnosis. Most PALS (People with ALS, as they’re called within a ALS community) don’t tarry as prolonged as Lindley has, and she knows it. And while her lifespan presumably will be condensed by ALS, she could still have many years left.

Lindley’s ability to pronounce has not nonetheless been compromised. She still gets about in a specifically versed van, nonetheless trips are removing harder. And her ability to breathe on her possess — a frightening disadvantage for many PALS — has not been severely compromised. Still, Lindley recently grown critical blood clots in her lungs that compulsory a harrowing puncture outing to a hospital. She is assured they were a outcome of a misled drug prescription. The clots have disappeared, though Lindley’s clarity that her life could finish shortly has not.

Despite these problems and setbacks, and notwithstanding her believe that things will usually get worse over time, Lindley has a lot of good moments amid days that she is happy to still demeanour brazen to. Many of these moments are due to a flourishing army of technological inclination that recompense for a failures of her body.


Assistive technology, as a margin is known, has done huge differences in a lives of people who have been infirm by accidents, diseases, or, as in Lindley’s case, on-going neurological handicaps.

Computer hardware and program turns content into debate for people who can no longer speak. For those who can no longer pierce hands or fingers to submit text, eye-gaze record allows a blink of an eye to be incited into letters and words. Steve Gleason, a former member of a New Orleans Saints NFL team, demonstrated this in a Microsoft ad aired during a final Super Bowl.

Alisa Brownlee is an assistive record clinician with a larger Philadelphia section of a ALS Association. Not all chapters can means such a full-time clinician, and Brownlee gives recommendation to PALS in other collection of a country, including Lindley.

“People with ALS need roughly each accumulation of assistive record that is out there,” she says. “Within a ALS community, a many critical need that we see is with communications assistance.”

In particular, she notes, PALS are still being denied entrance to some computer-based communication collection given of changes by Medicare that have reduced appropriation for some speech-generating devices, or SGDs. Brownlee says her record skills mostly take a behind chair to her time-consuming efforts to assistance PALS get capitulation from insurers and product vendors.

Her recommendation to PALS, and their families, tends to equivocate generalizations given people with ALS need such a extended operation of technological assistance. “When we work with a family, one of a initial things we find out is their spin of mechanism knowledge,” she says. “Whatever we do, we try to make certain they use something that they can adjust to as their condition progresses.”

In particular, this includes shopping a mechanism device that can be blending with program to accommodate a person’s needs over time. Someone who uses Apple or Microsoft record should substantially stay with that, she notes, and not try to master a new handling complement after in their illness when they’re also coping with many other challenges.

Brownlee also counsels people not to welcome high-tech collection during a responsibility of older, low-tech aids that continue to infer their worth. Using a elementary minute or design house with a caregiver can concede fast communications for those who can no longer speak. “What are we going to do to promulgate when we don’t have a device?” she asks.


Beyond communications, portable machines that breathe for people extend a lives of ALS patients for years and also concede them to travel. Lindley has such a device, though for now it simply leans opposite a wall in her home, available a day that no one wants to arrive.

Lindley continues to use a computer, though a lapse of her palm muscles is creation that most harder.

“I have a tiny figure-eight prop that we put on a forefinger” to hold a keys, she says. “My mechanism is also touch-controlled and voice-controlled.”

Apple computing products are really renouned with PALS, generally iPads. But Lindley uses Microsoft products as good as inclination regulating Android program applications.

“Windows 8.1 (the mechanism handling complement from Microsoft) has a voice-control app built onto it.”

Once she is helped on with a headset, a voice app can open an Internet browser and afterwards entrance opposite websites.

There also is dictation software, though this is proof a challenge, and she hasn’t figured out nonetheless how to use it.

At a some-more elementary level, Lindley’s cooking image is a form of assistive technology. So is a elementary rive that her husband, Rich Kern, places on her left palm before meals. A mechanism can be placed in a splint, permitting Lindley to eat on her own.

In between are a operation of elementary aids and electronic ones, including motion-sensitive rabble receptacles and lights.

She has motion-sensitive faucets as good though they’ve been infirm after responding to motions elsewhere and branch on constantly when they weren’t needed.

There has been an blast of assistive record in a kitchen.

And while Lindley loves food and was a grill reviewer, her excellent engine skills have so atrophied that she no longer is gentle even perplexing to make food. “I can’t do anything in a kitchen,” she says. “I can’t dull a dishwasher. we can’t rinse a dishes. The final time we picked adult a knife, that was about 8 months ago, we damn nearby cut off a tip of a finger. So we have motionless that’s not good.”

Increasingly, a assistive-technology apparatus that Lindley has come to rest on is a same one that has spin a prerequisite for billions of people — a smartphone.

Lindley’s hangs around her neck on a special lanyard she and Rich devised.

Apps on a phone can spin lights on and off. While Lindley can painstakingly daub out a content message, some-more and some-more she usually uses a phone’s speech-to-text tool.

She can see a day entrance when her voice will be a usually apparatus left to control a phone, and many other inclination in her home.

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