Ex-Saint shows high-tech controls at ALS home

Steve Gleason, a New Orleans hero since he blocked a punt for
the first touchdown in the Saints’ first home game after Hurricane
Katrina, says that until there’s a cure for his paralyzing disease,
technology is the solution.

The special teams standout in January 2011 was diagnosed with
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – or ALS, often referred to as Lou
Gehrig’s disease. The terminal condition causes gradual paralysis.
Gleason went public with it in October 2012 – five years to the day
after that post-Katrina touchdown and only weeks before his son
Rivers was born.

Gleason, who now gets around in a powered wheelchair, on
Thursday showed off some of the technology that helps people like
him get around at a residence he’s creating for up to 18 people
with ALS and multiple sclerosis, another disease that progressively
damages the nervous system.

A computerized system in the Team Gleason House lets people
control lights, doors, window shades, televisions, and room
temperature by moving a hand or with head, eyes, or breathing.

Work is still being done on the first floor of a 116-bed skilled
nursing facility being developed by the St. Margaret’s Daughters
order in a mid-city hospital abandoned after the floods of
Hurricane Katrina.

Chase gave Gleason’s foundation, Team Gleason, $350,000 to
install the system made by Promixis LLC of Jupiter, Fla.

The Team Gleason House at St. Margaret’s is the second home in
the country for ALS and MS patients. The other is at the Leonard
Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, Mass. It’s expected to take
its first residents in spring, said Greg Hassell, spokesman for
Chase.