Abstract

Patients may be rendered speechless because of many conditions, including cancer surgery, stroke, cerebral palsy, cervical cord and head trauma, neuromuscular paralysis, and intubation for respiratory failure. These same conditions may also be associated with decreased use of the hands, so that writing and other nonverbal forms of communication are also impaired. Lack of communication can frustrate the patient, the family, and health care personnel; increase the patient’s isolation; and lead to poor patient cooperation, thus impeding progress in therapy and producing secondary psychiatric disturbances. Two communication programs that use a Commodore 64 computer are described in this paper. One communication program uses the alphabet and the other is based on the international Morse code. These programs are easy to use and inexpensive to establish, and they accommodate any switching device.

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