What Happens During an ALS Patient Diaphragm Conditioning Session?
Working Toward More Comfortable and Effective Breathing
Following the successful implantation of your NeuRx DPS®, while you are still in the hospital, a certified healthcare provider will adjust the settings on the external pulse generator (EPG). The goal is to provide just the right amount of stimulation to your diaphragm without causing you any discomfort. If you do experience discomfort, you should tell your healthcare provider immediately, as only a trained clinician will be able to change the device settings.
You will likely begin your diaphragm conditioning with 30-minute (at minimum) sessions three times a day. During a conditioning session, your caregiver will turn on the NeuRx DPS® and then remove you from the ventilator. The EPG in your NeuRx DPS® will send a small amount of electricity through the wires to your diaphragm. This electrical stimulation causes the diaphragm to contract, which exercises and conditions it. Your caregiver will carefully monitor your oxygen levels during the conditioning.
You may be asked by your care team to record the amount of time you remain on the NeuRx DPS® during each session in a conditioning diary. This will help maximize your progress and reduce the time spent on mechanical ventilation. Your physician may also ask you to return to your ALS clinic every two or three months for evaluations that may include diagnostic testing and adjustment of your device’s conditioning settings.
Benefits of Diaphragm Conditioning for ALS Patients
As you may read more about in your ALS patient materials, in the 1990s, Dr. Handa studied the effects of electrical stimulation on the arm and leg muscles of ALS patients. He noted both short- and long-term therapeutic effects and concluded that the electrical stimulation may slow the progression of muscle deterioration in ALS patients. While he did not study the effects of electrical stimulation specifically on the diaphragm, his research was part of the initial rationale for conducting a clinical trial of NeuRx DPS® in ALS.
Many ALS patients have experienced the benefits of diaphragm conditioning using the NeuRx DPS®, including a strengthened diaphragm, less reliance on mechanical ventilation, and positive impacts on their sleep, including an improvement of sleep apnea symptoms.
To learn more about using the NeuRx DPS® to treat your chronic hypoventilation caused by ALS, please consult with your physician or reach out to our team. We look forward to providing more information about this potentially life-changing diaphragm pacing technology.