Emmanuel regains his voice through DynaVox

Emmanuel regains his voice through DynaVox

October 24th, 2012 by Katie Ward in Local Regional News

Since having a stroke several years ago, Life Care Center of Hixson patient Emmanuel Kennedy, 54, hasn't been able to communicate with others. In fact, he couldn't do much of anything.

That is, until recently.

Life Care Center of Hixson resident Emmanuel Kennedy, left, age 54, and speech pathologist Lauren Dorton work together via new technology to help Kennedy regain his ability to communicate verbally.

Life Care Center of Hixson resident Emmanuel Kennedy,...

Photo by Katie Ward

"He [originally] came to [Life Care Center of] Missionary Ridge very sick, not able to eat or move, and could not do much of anything for himself," said Life Care Center of Hixson speech pathologist Lauren Dorton, who works one-on-one with Kennedy. "Now he walks independently, eats food and takes care of himself. He's one of our biggest success stories."

But despite all his progress, Kennedy still could not communicate without using gestures. Several weeks ago he received a new DynaVox communication device preprogrammed with everyday sentences and commands corresponding to the touch of a button.

He now takes the device up to staff members and expresses his thoughts. Kennedy likes to press the button that asks, "How are you doing?" said Dorton. He also likes to press a button requesting a new necklace for Christmas, she said.

"He's known as trouble around here," laughed Dorton. "He likes to tap people on the shoulder and then hide. He likes to play jokes and press the button that says, 'I got you.'"

Kennedy smiled and pressed the button corresponding to "I got you" to demonstrate.

Dorton said before receiving the DynaVox, Kennedy would grow frustrated when he had trouble writing his words on paper or expressing words through gestures. She said he is much happier now because he can be himself again. If what he wants to communicate is not already preprogrammed, he can type it out and the device will say it.

"I like bingo," said Kennedy. "I like to play cards, go to the grocery store and go to the movies."

He said he also enjoys watching movies in his room on his VCR. He has a button to press on his DynaVox that says, "I need a new VCR," in case his ever breaks. A resident of the Hixson assisted living facility since 2011, he said he plans on staying there.