Minnesota Veteran With ALS Learns To Drive Wheelchair With His Eyes – WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Forward of Veterans Day, a brand new piece of know-how is unlocking potentialities for Minnesota veterans with degenerative illness analysis.

Vietnam veteran Dean Duffield is on the Minneapolis VA Hospital for a tune up. His energy scooter does what his physique now not can, although driving together with his left-handed joystick can also be changing into a problem.

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“I’ve gotten to the purpose now the place my hand nonetheless works if it’s beneath my waist,” Duffield stated.

And his proper hand doesn’t operate in any respect.

“It will be so much simpler if my legs had gone first as a substitute of my arms,” he stated.

Duffield discovered about his ALS a decade in the past.

“It’s simply been a gradual deterioration from there,” he stated.

Kristin Scheel is an occupational therapist on the VA.

“We get the prospect to essentially get to know our ALS sufferers very well and on a private stage as a result of we’re seeing them so usually, and coping with such actually emotional and generally actually tough, tough issues,” Scheel stated.

Dean Duffield (credit score: CBS)

His subsequent choice for driving the chair independently can be by foot.

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“Type of jogs my memory of utilizing a skid loader,” he stated.

And when that choice fades away, his eyes won’t solely be his home windows to the world, however his instruments to maneuver by means of it.

The Capacity Drive is giving Duffield the flexibility to drive with a shift of the attention.

“They appear by means of the display screen at completely different arrows — ahead, backward, left and proper — after which they will drive utilizing their eyes solely,” Scheel stated. “It permits any person who beforehand could not have been capable of drive in any respect or get round of their group and even their home to all of the sudden have this independence to have the ability to transfer round.”

Duffield is each a quick learner, and a superb sport.

“As you possibly can inform from Dean, it’s very taxing. It will get actually tiring in your eyes,” Scheel stated.

Drained eyes, however a sliver of optimism that maybe the following section of his illness will nonetheless maintain a kernel of independence.

“It simply provides him slightly little bit of hope to form of proceed going,” she stated.

Whereas this know-how is primarily getting used with ALS sufferers, it might additionally work for these with MS and spinal twine accidents.

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The wheelchair know-how prices $6,500. The VA pays for it so long as it’s medically needed.

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