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ALS Association

ALS Association ITP Internship Spring 2009

The ALS Association is the only national not-for-profit voluntary health organization whose sole
mission is to find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and improve
living with ALS.  ALS is a progressive neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in all
voluntary muscles.

In pursuit of our mission, we provide many services to patients with ALS.  The service that the
intern will be involved in is our assistive technology program.

The assistive technology program serves patients in a variety of ways, including conducting
home visits to address different assistive technology needs, providing a wide variety of loan
equipment from our loan closets, as well as providing information with regard to every area of
assistive technology.

The internship will provide the student with exposure to a variety of areas of assistive
technology.  Also the intern will observe patient care at our Beth Israel ALS Certified Center, a
multidisciplinary ALS clinic.

The intern will have the opportunity to participate in home visits with the assistive technologist
as well as work on a special project.

Examples of projects:
1. Reading books.  A lot of our patients enjoy reading, and quickly their decrease in
physical abilities prevents them from enjoying this leisure activity.  There are some page
turners on the market, but they do not work well and are expensive.  Most patients do not
like audio tapes; they want to retain the idea of actually reading text as much as possible.
This project would involve designing either a stand alone device or a computer interface
that would provide access to physical books to ALS patients.  Some work was done on
this problem by a previous ITP intern, but much more development and user testing
needs to occur to bring this project to prototype status.
2. Build a driving skills screening device.  At our ALS Clinics patients are screened for their
current physical abilities.  Often the issue of driving comes up and we need a way to test
basic physical abilities for driving.  The project would involve researching required
reaction times and other physical/perceptual requirements for driving.  Then a physical
device would be built to test these abilities and give the patient feedback as to whether
they have the basic abilities to continue driving.  This is not a driving simulator, but a
device to test basic abilities required for safe driving.

For more information, contact Antoinette Verdone: