PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” raised more than $115 million this year. It also made people more aware of the debilitating illness.

They aren’t dumping any more ice buckets at Carnegie Mellon University these days. But a couple of graduate students have come up with a way to help people in the later stages of the disease communicate by using their eyes.

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ALS patient Neil Alexander of O’Hara Township works with Abhishek Sharma and Douglas Rew on a new alert system called “iExpress.”

“We have given him the ability to just look at a few buttons and being able to send a message,” Sharma says. “The message goes to the caregiver on his or her mobile phone, and after receiving that message, the caregiver could send a reply back.”

“ALS patients eventually progress to the point where they’re totally paralyzed and can’t speak,” Neil Alexander adds. “So we thought in our own situation, it would be nice if I could alert my wife Suzanne if I had a process to alert her if she isn’t immediately present in the room.”

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His wife and caregiver agrees.

“The iGaze technology is really going to help us communicate, whether I’m in the kitchen or whether I’m in another state.”

The goal is to provide a measure of freedom to patient and caregiver alike.

“It’s going to help us stay in communication,” Suzanne concludes, “when he needs it most and I need it most.”
For more information, log on to Neil Alexander’s website, www.livelikelou.com.

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