If you've had a spinal cord injury and you use a mechanical ventilator, you may benefit from diaphragm pacing to help improve your breathing and remove your dependence on a mechanical ventilator. A diaphragm pacing system is a lightweight, battery-powered electronic pacing system that electrically stimulates your diaphragm muscles and nerves, causing your diaphragm to contract so that air is pulled into your lungs and you can breathe.

About

In diaphragm pacing, doctors perform a minimally invasive procedure to implant four electrodes into your diaphragm muscle and a fifth electrode just below the skin near the other electrodes. Doctors then connect these electrodes to an external stimulator. The stimulator gives ongoing electrical stimulation to the electrodes, causing your diaphragm to contract and helping you to breathe.

After your procedure, you'll need diaphragm conditioning to help you adjust to diaphragm pacing and help your diaphragm function well. In diaphragm conditioning, you transition between using the ventilator and the diaphragm pacing system several times a day for many days to weeks.

Diaphragm pacing may:

  • Reduce or eliminate the time you spend using a ventilator or other assisted breathing devices
  • Help you breathe and speak more naturally
  • Increase your mobility and transportation options
  • Make your activities such as dressing, bathing and transferring easier
  • Decrease your risk of respiratory infections
  • Improve your sense of smell and taste
  • Reduce the need for an external power source and concern about power outages
  • Experience. Mayo Clinic doctors and staff have helped thousands of people recover from traumatic spinal cord injuries and nontraumatic spinal disorders using many therapies. The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities has accredited the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
  • Integrated team. Mayo Clinic's spinal cord injury rehabilitation team is led by doctors trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation, bone and muscle surgery (orthopedic surgeons), and brain and nervous system surgery (neurosurgeons). Your treatment team also includes nurses, mental health professionals, physical therapists, occupational and recreational therapists, and other specialists.
  • Individualized care. Your doctors will create an individualized treatment plan to meet your needs. They will work with you to determine if diaphragm pacing may help meet your needs. The team considers you and your family to be an integral part of the treatment team, and you'll be informed and involved in making decisions and setting treatment goals.
  • Treatment and follow-up care. Mayo Clinic doctors trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation and other staff offer a full range of spinal cord injury rehabilitation services. Your spinal cord injury rehabilitation team provides inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation and lifelong care. Pediatric specialists trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation care for children with spinal cord injuries at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
  • Research. Mayo Clinic researchers study outcomes, rehabilitation options and potential treatments for people with spinal cord injuries and conduct clinical trials.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., is ranked among the Best Hospitals for rehabilitation by U.S. News & World Report.

At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical institution that reinvests all earnings into improving medical practice, research and education. We're constantly involved in innovation and medical research, finding solutions to improve your care and quality of life. Your doctor or someone on your medical team is likely involved in research related to your condition.

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Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people. In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Doctors trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation and other staff care for people with spinal cord injuries who may benefit from diaphragm pacing in the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

You'll need a physician's referral to be considered for admission to the inpatient Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program or for an appointment in the outpatient program.

For appointment information regarding a diaphragm pacing system evaluation, call 507-284-0064 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday.

For information regarding admission to the inpatient Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program, call the admissions coordinator at 507-266-6442 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday. For information regarding outpatient appointments, please call 507-284-5000 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday.

Pediatric specialists trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation care for children with spinal cord injuries who require rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Children needing inpatient treatment receive care at Mayo Eugenio Litta Children's Hospital at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

Your child will need a physician's referral to be considered for admission to the inpatient program or for an appointment in the outpatient program.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 507-538-3270 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

See information on patient services at the three Mayo Clinic locations, including transportation options and lodging.

Mayo Clinic researchers conduct research in spinal cord injury rehabilitation, including studying diaphragm pacing and other therapies for people with spinal cord injuries. Researchers also study outcomes, new treatment options and other areas related to spinal cord injury rehabilitation. Read more about spinal cord injury research.

Mayo Clinic researchers conduct many studies related to spinal cord injury, including nerve regeneration in the spinal cord system and diaphragmatic pacing system, among others.

Publications

See a list of publications by Mayo Clinic authors on spinal cord injury rehabilitation on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

Mar. 09, 2012