A North Lewisburg resident has donated equipment to Memorial Hospital of Union County that will allow some patients to communicate who otherwise could not.

A North Lewisburg resident has donated equipment to Memorial Hospital of Union County that will allow some patients to communicate who otherwise could not.

The hospital received a donation of a Vanguard speech-generating device from North Lewisburg resident Joann Spence, in memory of her husband, according to public relations specialist Stephanie Lantz.

Joann Spence's husband, Lee Spence, suffered from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and frequently came to Memorial Hospital for treatment for speech and swallowing deficits caused by the disease, according to Lantz. As his disease progressed, the device allowed Spence to communicate with family and friends.

"We're honored to have gotten to know and serve the Spence family," said Kristen Lang, a speech and language pathologist at the hospital. "We are sincerely grateful for this generous donation and look forward to the many ways this device will help our patients."

An aid for adults who have restrictions or impairments with communication due to stroke, brain injury or adult degenerative disease, the device uses symbols, pictures, words, letters and line drawings to help the user generate and respond to messages, according to Lantz. It includes synthesized and digitized speech, computer emulation and infrared environmental controls that allow users to operate appliances such as lights and televisions, according to its manufacturer, Prentke-Romich Company. The device can also be programmed for children with communication deficits such as cerebral palsy, autism or apraxia of speech.

To supplement Spence's donation, Prentke-Romich also donated additional upgrades for the device, which will allow therapists at Memorial Hospital to enjoy expanded device capabilities, including on-site therapy and diagnostic evaluations for a variety of patients with communication impairments, according to Lantz.