Augie Nieto, the CEO of ALS Research

Augie Nieto

Augie Nieto laughs after his labrador, Hazel, jumps up on to his lap.
All images in this post courtesy The Orange County Register; ph. Leonard Ortiz

The September/October 2010 issue of Neurology Now has an awesome article on Augie Nieto, proclaimed the CEO of ALS Research. Co-founder of Life Fitness, a successful exercise equipment company, Nieto was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2004 at the age of 47.

The article is fantastic and delves into the details of the disease, Augie’s approach to marketing research on the disease and his use of his business acumen to help raise awareness and research funds (dubbed Augie’s Quest), and what research has found out about this disease, the new model organizations and labs are using to research the disease and Augie’s goals for ALS for the future.

Read the full article here at, or download the printable PDF version.

Aside from all the good information in the article, what caught our eye was, of course, the technology Augie utilizes to communicate, and even used to write a book.

Augie Nieto foot control

Augie controls his wheel chair mounted computer by using his toes and feet. The button on the left is used for a left-click and the right scroll wheel controls the cursor. The nautical themed board was made especially for Augie by the man that refinished his boat.

Augie Nieto foot control

With his feet in toe socks Augie selects letters on his computer screen to construct sentences which allows Augie to "speak" with a voice synthesizer. Augie wrote his latest book, "Reciprocity Incorporated", by using his toes to type out the words.

Augie and Lynn Nieto

Augie and Lynne Nieto chat in their Corona del Mar home. Augie has just finished his latest book, "Reciprocity Incorporated."

Augie Nieto

Using only his toes and feet Augie Nieto types out a sentence on the forward facing screen on his wheel chair mounted computer.
Ph. Leonard Ortiz for The Orange County Register

To see more images from the same article as the ones shown here and to read the related article, “Augie just wrote a book with his toes,” visit The Orange County Register or click here.

Augie is also the mastermind the technology seen above. Knowing that most people with ALS lose motor neurons in their peripheral nerves, Augie was also aware that certain types of ALS cause people with the disease to lose the ability to talk. With this knowledge, Augie was ahead of the curve, already thinking of ways to improve day-to-day living when his own voice began to falter. Finding out that his contractor, who was contracted to re-built Augie’s house for wheelchair accessibility, was a bit of a computer wiz, the two began developing TypeRight software, which allows people with ALS to type with their feet. Augie can type 40 words a minute using TypeRight.

Read the Neurology Now article, “The CEO of ALS Research,” to also read about a new device Nieto is currently testing that reads brain waves and translates them into data that can be read by a computer and translated into voice using voice-activated software.

3 comments so far

  1. We liked your article, so we (RambergMediaGroup) would be interested in hearing from you, our readers like it….

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Roger, GraceBarkwell. GraceBarkwell said: Augie Nieto, the CEO of ALS Research « DSS of GCCC […]

  3. heidi meininger on

    I just want to say you are AMAZING! My mom died in June of 2002, after being told only a year in half earlier that she had ALS.

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