Minnesota veterans with ALS learn to drive wheelchairs with their eyes – WCCO

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Minneapolis (WCCO​​) -Before the arrival of Veterans Day, a new technology opened up the possibility for Minnesota veterans to diagnose veterans.

Vietnamese veteran Dean Duffield undergoes adjustments at the Minneapolis Veterans Hospital. His electric scooter can do things his body can no longer do, although driving with the left-hand joystick has also become a challenge.

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“I have now reached the point where I can still work if my hands are below the waist,” Duffield said.

And his right hand doesn’t work at all.

“If my legs moved first instead of my hands, it would be much easier,” he said.

Duffield discovered his ALS ten years ago.

“It only slowly deteriorated from there,” he said.

Kristin Scheel is an occupational therapist in VA.

“We have the opportunity to really get to know our ALS patients on a personal level, because we often see them and deal with these very emotional, sometimes very difficult, difficult things,” Scheel said.

Dean Duffield (Image source: CBS)

His next choice for an independent driving chair is to walk.

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“It kind of reminds me of using a skid steer loader,” he said.

When that option disappears, his eyes will not only become his window to the world, but also a tool for him to travel through the world.

Ability drive allows Darfield to drive by shifting his eyes.

“They look at different arrows through the screen-forward, backward, left, and right-and they can only drive with their eyes,” Scheer said. “It gives people who may not be able to drive at all or move around in the community or even their homes before suddenly have the independence to move around.”

Duffield is both a fast learner and a good sport.

“As you can see from Dean, it’s very heavy. Your eyes are really tired,” Scheer said.

Tired eyes, but a hint of optimism, maybe the next stage of his illness will remain independent core.

“It just gave him a little hope to move on,” she said.

Although this technology is mainly used for patients with ALS, it is also suitable for patients with MS and spinal cord injury.

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The cost of wheelchair technology is US$6,500. As long as it is medically necessary, the VA will pay for it.

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