Motor Neurone Disease (MND), sometimes referred to as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a neurodegenerative condition that affects the motor neurons that reach from the brain to the spinal cord and affect muscles throughout the body. As these motor neurons deteriorate, the brain’s ability to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. Most often, the condition affects people between the ages of 40 and 70. Recent statistics estimate there are over 2,000 people in Australia currently diagnosed with MND and every day 2 Australians are diagnosed with MND..
For individuals with MND, it is important to have the tools needed to maintain independence as abilities change in response to the condition.
Symptoms vary from person to person, but possible signs and symptoms of MND may include:
- Muscle weakness in the hands, arms, legs, or in the muscles that control speech, swallowing or breathing, exclusively or in combination.
- Muscle cramps or twitching, especially in the hands and feet.
- Impaired use of arms and legs.
Life with assistive technology
Jeff discovered assistive technology on the internet shortly after his MND diagnosis. He uses an I-16 speech generating device, which he commands with his eyes using TD Control, a tool on his device that allows him to access the Windows environment. He uses Communicator 5 software to type with his eyes and have his phrases read aloud in a synthetic voice, for example when he wants to give a pep talk to the kids he coaches. It also enables him to independently search the internet, watch YouTube and Netflix and stay in touch with friends, family, his athletes and their parents on social media through Accessible Apps, in much the same way he did before living with MND.