Launch Recite Me assistive technology
Muted Vibrant

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Formerly Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust

Ventilation and weaning

When the spinal cord is damaged at the level of the neck (cervical vertebrae C0 to C7), then the muscles which support the upper body (including the arms, chest and abdomen) are usually affected.

To be able to breathe normally, the chest muscles (intercostal muscles) and the diaphragm need to contract and relax effectively and there is increasing difficulty often experienced in breathing the higher up the neck the spinal cord is damaged.

If the cord is injured completely at C4 or above, then most likely the person will require permanent assistance with their breathing. This means surgically inserting an opening in the neck to allow a tracheostomy tube to be put in place, which is then connected to a mechanical ventilator which then undertakes breathing for the person.

We are the largest admitting centre in the UK for those with long-term ventilator dependence following spinal cord injury – at any time up to 10 beds are available for those who require support with ventilation.

Over the past 20 years, we have developed an expertise in treating people with high-level tetraplegia who require continued ventilation, and developing support services to such a degree that it is the norm rather than the exception for most patients to return home rather than require institutional care.


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