ALS is an expensive disease and paying for necessary medical equipment is a heavy burden for many families. The ALS Association of Texas supports Texans with ALS with our Equipment Loan Program. This program helps Texans get access to equipment they need, at no cost to the family, so that they can stay mobile, communicate, and navigate everyday tasks. We also provide the education that people with ALS and their loved ones need to ensure that the equipment is operated safely.
Each person has their own unique needs as they navigate their life with ALS, and there are many different types of equipment to help with mobility, communication, and more. Here are some of the most common items needed by people with ALS.
- Power Wheelchairs
As ALS robs a person of the ability to use their limbs, a power wheelchair can help someone living with ALS retain their mobility. The average retail cost for a power wheelchair is $30,000, but as additions and alterations are made to the chair, costs can go as high as $70,000. Wheelchairs are a critical tool to help Texans with ALS maintain their independence and have the freedom to move around both in their home and in public spaces.
- Communication Devices
The ability to communicate is crucial to people living with ALS. Communication devices, like eye-controlled devices, allow Texans with ALS to continue to communicate with their friends and family even after the disease has robbed them of their ability to speak. These devices can be as expensive as $20,000 and constantly need upgrades due to changes and improvements in technology and software. Though the cost is high, the value someone gets from being able to communicate is priceless.
- Patient Lifts
Moving in and out of a wheelchair becomes increasingly difficult for people with ALS as the disease progresses. Many caregivers have difficulty, and sometimes suffer injuries, trying to move their loved one in and out of their wheelchair. A patient lift can be either manual or electric, and it helps reduce the difficulty associated with moving from a wheelchair into bed, the shower, or other areas of the home. This ensures the safety of both the caregiver and their loved one with ALS. An electric lift costs about $2,500 and helps reduce stress on the person with ALS and their caregiver.
While these 3 pieces of equipment are items that nearly every person with ALS will need at some point, there are many more pieces of equipment necessary to ensure the health and happiness of someone living with ALS. Neck braces to aid posture, shower chairs to assist with hygiene, and breathing machines are just a few of the other items that a person with ALS may need in their day to day lives.
“The number of patients and families that we serve has grown substantially,” Marshall Nelson says, “Our budget is bigger now for the equipment program too which helps with trying to meet the needs of more people.”
The ALS Association of Texas strives to provide all these things and more to Texans with ALS. Need help with equipment? Contact your local Care Services Manager.