Computer Becomes Family Friend
by Peter Marsh
Survivor's story of success using computer assisted aphasia therapy.
Help from Providence
Terri Nichols, one of Norm's speech therapists at Providence, had offered him a free, trial copy of a new, home-therapy program designed by her husband Clay, a software engineer. They had recently completed work on the first installment of the Aphasia Tutor series, which enables survivors to do word recognition and recall exercises on a home computer. Ironically, although Norm had spent his career in computing, the Windows operating system was entirely new to him.
Jayne had already learned to use a PC to e-mail news to friends and relatives and connect with a stroke support group, so it was up to her to install and run the program first. "Actually, the program really installs itself," she admitted. "It made such a difference to us to have something this useful right here in the house. There's always a temptation to pass the time with television, but this program was a real benefit to Norm."
A couple of years passed, with Norm progressing slowly, until they happened to see a feature on the TV news about Terri, Clay and their business, Bungalow Software. Jayne was one several people--caregivers and therapists--who called them that evening. She learned that Clay had spent the past two years creating a complete range of therapy programs which she could try without charge. At their internet website, she was able to download the demonstration version of "Sights and Sounds" onto her PC. (see sidebar)
"The first time we ran it, I was amazed at how much our old computer could do. I didn't even know it had its own microphone! It was just what Norm needed to give him some new goals," she explained.
"I remember the first time he heard the computer applaud his efforts he lit up like a Christmas tree. Now he can easily spend an hour working on his own,"
"Jayne also does her own "therapy" on the internet--by staying in touch with caregiver and prayer groups, and sharing with Norm the stream of jokes that friends circulate. She proved she was right to ignore that first medical opinion--now she takes responsibility for his diet, making sure he gets all the necessary vitamins and minerals to keep his strength up.
Sitting in their living room, surrounded by pictures of their children and grandchildren, this inspiring couple continue to count their blessings. As Jayne puts it: "We have so much to be grateful for--first the surgeons and therapists, and now the computer as well."
To aid in stroke recovery, Bungalow Software has a variety of individual therapy programs.
© 1998-2013 Peter Marsh
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