How the Click of a Mouse Can Change Lives


shabbos-computerDrip….Drip… Drop….I recently watched the excellent documentary “Israel Inside; How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference” hosted by author and former Harvard Lecturer Tal Ben Shahar.  I was struck by his explanation of how the Israelis, despite living in a land whose crop output is consistently challenged by its hot climate and lack of rain, have found a way around this.  How, you may wonder?

Enter Simcha Blass, an innovative engineer who, in the 1930’s fortunately took notice of a strange phenomenon that was present in his very own backyard.  A big tree was growing seemingly without any water aiding its growth.  Curious, he dug below what seemed to be the dry surface.  His discovery solved the mystery!  Water dripping from a pipe was creating a small wet area on the surface.  This trickle in turn was penetrating the surface, extending underground and travelling to the roots of this tree.  Tiny drip by tiny drop had led to the development of a gigantic tree.  Profound!

Simcha Blass paid attention to this, and using his engineering talent, applied this method to help crops grow in Israel.   He ultimately became known as the father of modern drip irrigation.  This has enabled Israeli agriculture to thrive, even in the desert, and has led to them becoming a major exporter of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Just think of how many trees have grown since!

So, what do drip irrigation and the mouse clicking title have in common?  Please bear with me for a small while.  There is a connection and I’ll get to that soon, but first I want to introduce you to Mr. Harris, a highly intelligent middle aged man with a pleasant smile.  Beyond the initial friendly exterior, he is a man whose world has just been turned upside down.  You may not notice it at first glance, but you can detect it by looking into his eyes, whose sorrowful shade reflect the feelings of hopelessness that he is trying valiantly to keep inside.

You see, Mr. Harris has recently suffered what the doctors call a CVA, a cerebral vascular accident, more commonly known as a stroke.  In addition to not being able to move the whole right side of his body, he suddenly finds, to his dismay, that when he attempts to communicate, the words come out slurred and unintelligible.  Not only can he not tell anyone around him how he feels or what he wants (which is disturbing enough), but deep in his heart he fears that if his speech doesn’t improve, he’ll be confined for the rest of his life to a lonely existence consisting solely of his inner world.

Mr. Harris and others like him, who are experiencing the gut wrenching feeling at waking up feeling cut off from the world, are the types of patients who enter Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital, perhaps with small seeds of hope in their hearts that life can improve after a stroke or brain injury.  Nurturing their hopes is exactly what we do!

Thanks to the options of intense rehab therapies they undergo during their stay, patients often make significant progress.  But thankfully there are even brighter horizons out there.  Rapid technological advances are resulting in the creation and development of superb electronic devices, popularly familiar in the field by the term “augmentative and alternative communication devices.”  These devices enable users with limited ability to speak and express their feelings and wishes to those around them, granting them access to the connections so vital to all of us.  The preciousness of the gift of speech, so often taken for granted, is realized in the restoration of dignity and sense of humanness that having this ability gives us.

I told you I would come back to the mouse clicking and drip irrigation connection and I intend to keep my word!   Sinai Hospital’s Brain Injury Program and Care Management department in Baltimore, Maryland has joined an online challenge to use “Technology for Good.”  The basic concept is that ideas have been submitted from all over, and the one which receives the most votes will be eligible to obtain an award of $2500.  Receiving these funds would make it possible for the department to purchase just these kinds of devices.  If awarded, these communication devices will be made available to patients with stroke and brain injury, opening up a whole new world of hope and connection to them.

That’s where you, dear reader, come in.  We need YOUR vote!  You may just be one person, but every vote will add up.  And that’s where the connection lies.  You see, it’s really about little drips and drops making an impact.  Making a difference is now literally at your fingertips and your click of a mouse can truly change lives.  Click by click – let’s do this together!

The voting period extends from Thursday, July 12 through Thursday July 26.

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If you can spread the word and pass this link along to your contacts and social networks, you can help more water drops collect to produce infinite beautiful trees.

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