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Mind gym

by Janine Lodato

To compensate for a total loss of motor skills due to Multiple Sclerosis (MS), I have focused on the development and performance of mental tasks. I write articles. I create books, I play Scrabble with my caregiver husband, I watch DVD movies and documentaries from Netflix, a great service indeed, and listen to magazines and books on tape provided by the Library of Congress, another worthwhile service to people with disability, delivered at no charge.

I am absolutely sure I am avoiding the onset of cognitive problems, dementia and Alzheimer's. I firmly believe that using my brain in activities requiring the mind will continue to keep me productive in spite of my severe physical disability. My husband even jokes that I am causing him to loose his memory because I remember all the phone numbers, all the names, all the activities in which we have participated, so he gives himself permission to forget such information.

There are things I can still do such as think, talk, observe, feel, react, compose: all mental functions. I have been forced to concentrate on the mind oriented activities.

People around me marvel at how I seem so normal, even though I am very physically limited I am also very mentally active. Yes, I have a disability, but my mind and emotions still work fine, maybe even better.

My husband reminds me frequently that "no one is disabled when on the Internet, when one interacts via the Web". So I use him as my VoxBot (voice robot) and KeyBot (a keyboard robot) when I want something quick via the Web. Also I use voice recognition software and soon will be using a laser activated keyboard brought to me from New Zealand made by a company there called lomac.

This innovative keyboard functions with a laser attached to a cap on my head. Most people with a disability can move their heads. The lomac laser based keyboard is linked to a simple tablet computer, a PDA, made by NouvoNet, located in Silicon Valley.

Since I cannot turn my body myself in bed, I consistently wake my husband up so he could roll me from one side to the other or scratch my nose and perform many other little but important functions. I do this three or four time each night.

He tells me he does not mind that his sleep is disrupted so frequently, because this allows him to remember four times as many dreams versus just one which would be the case if he slept through the night we no interruptions. Normally we only remember the very last dream of the night when we wake up.

He likes to induce his dreams by means of concentrating on an important subject he wants to think about or solve. He does this focused concentration as he is about to go to sleep. He is convinced that he becomes four times more productive due to my repeated interruptions of his sleep.

He also told me that he would like a lomac keyboard on our ceiling above our bed so he could keyboard a few keywords, specific to the subject he wants to dream about. He would do this just as he is about to fall asleep. Then the computer would, with a Sleep Induction software, recognize that he just want to search for the keywords. The computer would automatically connect to Google, then would text to voice the 3 top results even while he is sleeping, increasing the potential of the specific dream he would like.

He is crazy, of course, or is he?

I am the luckiest person on the face of the earth, as Lou Gehrig so appropriately announced in his farewell speech, that I am surrounded by the support of my hero husband, my family and my friends and they all appreciate my mind and ignore my physical disability.

About the author

Janine has had Multiple Sclerosis for over 25 years and is a regular contributor to e-bility.com. She writes about her experiences using assistive technology, and the personal side of disability and caring. She also encouarges others to keep their minds busy with interesting and stimulating activities as a way of coping with disability and has recently published her story "High on the Fight for Hope" as well as other publications, such as "Advances in voice recognition: a first-hand look at the magic of voice-recognition technology" available from Amazon.com.

Janine can be contacted by emailing LodatoClan@aol.com

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