ALS is a devastating disease, and as it progresses people lose the ability to walk, speak, move, and breathe. Here at the ALS Association of Texas, one of our most important initiatives is our Equipment Loan Program. This program allows our ALS community access to various equipment they may need throughout their journey with this disease. Equipment is expensive but it gives a person with ALS much-needed freedom and mobility back, so being able to offer a program like this is instrumental to the life of a person with ALS.
One of the big things about this disease is staying one step ahead so that when something happens, you have the equipment you need right there waiting for you.
“Some things happen suddenly, and you’re not prepared. To be able to have the ALS Association local chapter be there and reach out and say ‘here’s my need’ and have that need met is huge,” said Tamara Hilliard.
As ALS progresses, each persons needs are different. When Tamara’s husband, Jim, a person with ALS, was no longer able to walk and needed a power wheelchair, our team had luckily already provided them with a Hoyer lift. At the time, Jim was still able to walk with a walker, and only sometimes needed a chair. One day Jim had a bad fall and broke his knee. Suddenly, they needed a safe way to get him in and out of bed. Thankfully, they had that solution waiting for them in the garage, so Tamara, Jim’s wife, was able to care for and transport him safely. From that point on, he was chair-bound, but they didn’t have to worry because they had the equipment they needed to get him from the bed to the chair.
“Life’s precious – there’s not much time when you’ve been diagnosed with a disease like ALS,” said Tamara. “I think it’s important to support the closet, and support helping families get the equipment, even if it’s temporary until they can get their own. It meets a real need for ALS patients because of their health and their physical decline are continually changing.”
COVID-19 has created many limitations in the management of our equipment loan program. Our team is not able to deliver or pick-up as many items as we usually can, nor purchase much new equipment for Texans fighting ALS. Donations will help get the Equipment Loan Program operating back at full capacity as we seek to provide lifesaving equipment to people with ALS.