System allows ALS sufferers to store speech - WNEM TV 5

System allows ALS sufferers to store speech

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

For people suffering from ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease, the fear of not being able to communicate can be heartbreaking.

But patients that are losing their ability to speak don't have to lose their voice, thanks to some new technology.

Vashti Ross is banking on her future. Ross was diagnosed with ALS and may someday lose her ability to speak.

So she's spending hours recording phrases and sayings that are uniquely her own into a computer program called Model Talker.

"It's so important. When you lose your voice, you lose a piece of who you are," says Ross.

Dr. Gary Dunbar says ALS traps patients in their own bodies. Their mind is still alert but their body can't respond and voice banking is one way to fight that.

"The voice banking is a fairly new technique and I think it would be helpful later on in the disease when it's difficult for them to articulate," says Dunbar. "It will help people later on keep their own identity and have their own voice when they use it in a synthesized fashion."

Ross will have to live the rest of her life with ALS and she plans to continue speaking with her own voice the entire time.

Copyright 2014 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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