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.