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Dahlonega rehab center helps patients reclaim independence
Technology aids in opening doors, turning on appliances
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One room at the Chelsey Park Health and Rehabilitation center in Dahlonega, Ga., is set up as a grocery store. There are different rooms and stations at the center for patients who are there for short-term rehabilitation that mimic situations patients will be faced with when they return home. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Patients at a rehabilitation facility in Dahlonega who — due to neurological disorder — are trapped by the limitations of their own bodies can find new life thanks to the availability of a new and rare technology.

By swiping through and selecting options on their smartphone or tablet, patients with diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s and Parkinson’s can open doors, turn on the television, close the blinds and flip on the lightswitch using a high tech technology called PEAC — Proximis Environment Automation Controller.

Brian O’Rourke, executive director of Chelsey Park Health & Rehabilitation, said the Dahlonega facility is one of only three in the country to offer it.

“Patients who suffer from disorders in which ... their bodies have deteriorated but their minds are perfectly functional, they are the ones who benefit from this,” O’Rourke said.

Lynne King, vice president of Chelsey Park Health & Rehabilitation, said that “most people with these types of diseases, their minds are intact. They just can’t move their body anymore. The PEAC technology provides that independence they normally wouldn’t have.”

For those patients who do not have the use of their hands, the PEAC technology can even read eye or head movement.
“Literally, you can look at the tablet and make it open a door,” King said. “It also works with head movement. It’s really an amazing technology. If you can move your eyes, you can use this keypad.”

Other features at Chelsey Park Health & Rehabilitation include a “town square” area in which patients can practice getting in and out of a car, visit a faux grocery store and simulate countless other instances of life in the real world.

“They can practice real life,” O’Rourke said. “We want to make sure they can do all these things here, so that when they leave the center they won’t have to come back to us.”

Open since May, the three-story nursing center currently has three patients. With 60 beds, O’Rourke said, there is plenty of room for more.

A not-for-profit center serving neurological and also short-term rehabilitation patients, Chelsey Park is located at 200 Mountain Park Drive in Dahlonega. For more information, visit

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