The Steve Gleason Institute opens Monday in Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash.– Washington State University’s Steve Gleason Institute is opening its one of kind adaptive technology center in Spokane.

The institute is named after the former football player who has ALS and has been advocating for the disease for many years.

The center features home automation products that are controlled through voice or eye gaze technologies. It also features a wheelchair simulator and gaming stations.

The center will open by appointment only starting Monday.

The Sprenger family from Moscow was one of a few families that got to tour it early.

“Everything about it is amazing just the independence it gives people to be able to drive around in your wheelchair by yourself. He can’t drive his wheelchair by himself because he can’t move his body, and with the new technology, he can move from room to room. He can change the TV,” Linda Sprenger said.

Mike Sprenger was diagnosed with ALS about ten years ago–around the same time Gleason was diagnosed.

Over the last six months, Mike’s eyes have stopped working well. He used to have a machine where he could use eye gazing to do a variety of things such as make phone calls and use the computer.

The Sprenger family learned about neuro node technology at the facility, which allows him to move his eyebrows instead of his eyes.

“So, he can do both his eyes still work a little bit, but not like they used to so with this new technology he can go back to using his computer– use all those things that he hasn’t been able to these last six months,” Linda said.

“It’s really bringing families together in a community of sharing information collaborating with other companies and startups who want to help solve some of these problems, but don’t necessarily have the access to families to ask them why they might be challenged,” Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience Adaptive Technology Center project manager Theresa Whitlock-Wild said.

People from around the country can utilize the center without having to physically be there.

The Gleason Institute is working with WSU researchers and health care providers from St. Luke’s and Providence.