Many families know when a loved one has Lou Gehrig’s disease, it can be difficult. One ALS patient in Chickasha is finding a way to overcome the obstacles.
Carl Phelps is turning 65 this year. The last three years have been a struggle since his symptoms started getting worse.
“It can be really frustrating when you can’t speak. You can’t eat. You can’t use your hands,” said Janice Phelps, his wife of 40 years.
Less than a year ago, Carl was the referee of the all-state game, running up and down the court. Now, he has a hard time just moving his hands.
Carl and Janice both knew what it was before the diagnosis. Nine people in Carl’s family had ALS.
In January, they attended a support group meeting for ALS patients and learned about a new program that was created by students at Oklahoma Christian University.
It originally began as a senior capstone project. A company called VisuALS Technology Solution is now taking the project and carrying it forward to patients like Carl.
A user-friendly program, VisuALS uses three cameras attached to a tablet. These cameras find where Carl is looking. When he focuses on a letter, it pulls the letter up. Carl can form full sentences, press “Speak” and it will talk for him.
Through the application, Carl said, “I have told them how thankful I am for them and that it has given me a new life.”
While waiting for a cure, Carl believes this will help other ALS patients. “It means a ton to me,” he said, “I love speaking, and now I can to family and friends.”
Every day, Carl can talk to his wife through VisuALS. He can tell her he loves her. “Janice, you are beautiful,” said Carl, “I love you forever and ever. Amen.”
For families interested in the program, visit VisuALS website. (http://visuals.tech/)