Daughter With Severe Brain Injury Uses A Device To ‘Speak’ To Her Mother For The First Time In 21 Years

Life by Julia Lynn Rubin on 01/10/2018

For the past 21 years, Joellan Huntley had been unable to communicate with others using anything other than sounds and grunts. Over a decade ago, she was in a car accident that took the life of her boyfriend and his young sister. After swerving to miss a dog, Joellan was thrown from the vehicle, leaving her with brain damage so severe that she was essentially trapped inside her own body. But on Christmas day, her mother, Louise Misner, witnessed a true miracle. Using a special tablet and a camera that tracks eye movement, Joellan was able to select icons and phrases that allowed her to speak to her mother for the first time since the accident. The device is called the Eye Gaze Assistive Communication Technology Device, and it’s changing the lives of people all around the world.

Posted by Pat Dunn, MLA – Pictou Centre on Friday, September 18, 2015

“I said, ‘Joellan, I like your new Christmas outfit you got on,” Louise reported of that first communication in years. “And then she said no, and went to a long-sleeve shirt because she was trying to tell me what she had on.”

“It was God’s way of telling me that she’s finally achieved what she needed to since the accident,” she added.

The family had won a $1 million insurance settlement after the accident, but soon found themselves in a legal battle with their province and its Community Services Department. The department reportedly wanted to take back the money that the family had used to pay for Joellan’s on-going therapy and care equipment. But on April 2015, they reached an out-of-court settlement, and were able to use the money to purchase an Eye Gaze device.

The mother of a woman who suffered a severe brain injury says being able to communicate with her daughter, is a…

Posted by CBC Maritime Noon on Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Amy Smith has spent the past 12 years working with Joellan, teaching her how to use the device by having her practice tracking pictures with her eyes before moving on having her answer yes or no questions. “We had to go through two or three different screens until we found the right one for her,” Louise said. “Her eyes focus on the icons to answer questions.”

Using the Eye Gaze system, a person can choose phrases, icons, or type their own words and phrases. Some people who use it are writing books, attending school, or simply enjoying their newfound way to communicate.

“The breakthrough [with Joellan] on Christmas Day was that the system was set up for her and she was completely independent; there was no one else facilitating that conversation with her,” Amy Smith said. “It was just a natural conversation she had with her mom, like anyone else would.”

( H/T liftable.com )

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