What is ALS?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease in American English and Motor Neurone Disease in British English, is a form of Motor Neuron Disease caused by the degeneration of upper and lower neurons, located in the ventral horn of the spinal cord and the cortical neurons that provide their efferent input. The condition is often called Lou Gehrig’s disease in North America, after the New York Yankees baseball player who was diagnosed with the disease in 1939. The disorder is characterized by rapidly progressive weakness, muscle atrophy and fasciculations, spasticity, dysarthria, dysphagia, and respiratory compromise. Sensory function generally is spared, as is autonomic and oculomotor activity .[source wikipedia]
Managment – Therapies
Physical therapists and occupational therapists play a large role in rehabilitation for individuals with ALS. Specifically, physical and occupational therapists can set goals and promote benefits for individuals with ALS promoting functional independence. Overall, physical and occupational therapists have been proven to have positive effects on individuals with ALS by prescribing techniques and equipment to assist with conserving energy, emphasizing the importance of education, limiting pain, and help to maintain a level of function appropriate for each of their clients with ALS. Occupational therapy and special equipment such as assistive technology can also enhance patients’ independence and safety throughout the course of ALS. ALS patients who have difficulty speaking may benefit from working with a speech-language pathologist. These health professionals can teach patients adaptive strategies such as techniques to help them speak louder and more clearly. As ALS progresses, speech-language pathologists can recommend the use of augmentative and alternative communication such as voice amplifiers, speech-generating devices (or voice output communication devices) and/or low tech communication techniques such as alphabet boards or yes/no signals. These methods and devices help patients communicate when they can no longer speak or produce vocal sounds. [source wikipedia] .
AAC – Alternative Augmentative Communication
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is an umbrella term that encompasses the communication methods used to supplement or replace speech or writing for those with impairments in the production or comprehension of spoken or written language. AAC is used by those with a wide range of speech and language impairments, including congenital impairments such as cerebral palsy, intellectual impairment and autism, and acquired conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. AAC can be a permanent addition to a person’s communication or a temporary aid. Modern use of AAC began in the 1950s with systems for those who had lost the ability to speak following surgical procedures. During the 1960s and 1970s, spurred by an increasing commitment in the West towards the inclusion of disabled individuals in mainstream society and developing the skills required for independence, the use of manual sign language and then graphic symbol communication grew greatly. It was not until the 1980s that AAC began to emerge as a field in its own right. Rapid progress in technology, including microcomputers and speech synthesis, have paved the way for communication devices with speech output and multiple options for access to communication for those with physical disabilities. [source wikipedia]
urTalker App : AAC – Alternative Augmentative Communication
urTalker was developed to provide a new cost effective communication option for those with disabilities. The founders needed an affordable solution for their son who has cerebral palsy, autism, limited vision, and is non-verbal. Several therapies and devices were available for one but not all of these conditions and not at a price that was affordable. After years of working with various educators, therapists and individuals urTalker emerged.