SOURCE: HelpMeSpeak


October 12, 2010 19:12 ET

San Diegan With ALS Finds Innovative Yet Simple Solution for Speech-Impaired Patients

Paul Henderson Launches "HelpMeSpeak Cards™" to Help Others Who Have Limited Speech

SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwire - October 12, 2010) -  When San Diego resident Paul Henderson was hospitalized last year after a fall and subsequent hip surgery, he realized that even highly trained hospital staff were unable to meet his basic comfort needs -- not because of lack of concern, but because as an Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS -- more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease) patient, he had lost the ability to speak. 

His week in the hospital ICU followed by two weeks at a rehab facility so impacted Henderson and his family -- who had to be present at all times to interpret simple messages such as "I need my pain medication," or "I need to go to the bathroom," -- that it inspired him to set up a new business designed to help anyone with limited speech ability in a care-giving situation.

Called "HelpMeSpeak, Inc." (, the new company manufactures and sells reasonably priced message cards that can be used virtually anywhere -- in hospitals, nursing facilities, rehab facilities or at home. The two-sided cards come in sets of 15, and have basic "needs" phrases in English and Spanish. They are ideally suited to individuals who have suffered strokes, paralysis, or who have other nerve/muscular-damaging diseases (such as ALS or muscular sclerosis). Henderson plans to donate $1 from every sale to the San Diego ALS Association. 

"I assumed that nursing staff would understand that ALS does not impact my mental capacity, only my ability to move and speak. I also assumed that they would be able to interpret my efforts to communicate, or to at least anticipate my basic needs," said Henderson. "Unfortunately, I was wrong on all counts. They would talk to me as though as I was mentally impaired, and unfortunately, could not understand my efforts to communicate.

"As a result, I would lay cold in the bed for hours, or in pain, all because they couldn't understand me."

Henderson's idea for HelpMeSpeak cards was so simple, he was sure a product like this must already exist. However, after contacting several hospitals and facilities, none were in use. Any communication products he found were not directed to basic patient care and cumbersome to use. 

The HelpMeSpeak cards are held by a ring that can be attached by a clip to a hospital gown or by a lanyard to a bedrail (or for patients not at risk of tangling, around the neck). The cards are color coded -- red for English and black for Spanish. The cards are large enough that even if someone has limited hand mobility, it's possible to handle them with relative ease. For patients without mobility, the caregiver can show the cards -- thumbing through until the patient nods that his or her message has been selected.

HelpMeSpeak messages include: "I need my medications," "Turn off the light," "I am hot," "I am cold," "I am thirsty," "I need to go to the toilet," "I am hungry," "I am OK," etc. 

HelpMeSpeak cards can be ordered through the company website,, with individual set prices starting at $25 and per-unit Henderson plans to have a customization option introduced soon that will allow users/orders to expand the sets, or change the sets, with other messages as well.

About HelpMeSpeak
HelpMeSpeak, Inc., a San Diego-based company, is the creator and distributor of HelpMeSpeak cards, which are care cards designed by Paul Henderson, an ALS patient, to assist speech-impaired patients with communicating urgent needs to doctors, nurses and other caregivers. Each set of HelpMeSpeak cards contains 15 cards with messages translated in both English and Spanish. For more information, visit

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