Jefferson University Hospitals

Diaphragm Electrical Stimulation

If you or a loved one has sustained a spinal cord injury that requires you to use a ventilator to breathe, you may be a candidate for the NeuRx DPS™. Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia is the first in Pennsylvania to offer this device, and Michael Weinstein, MD, assistant professor in Jefferson's Department of Surgery, is among the first surgeons in the United States to implant the NeuRx DPS.

What Does Diaphragm Electrical Stimulation Using the NeuRx DPS Involve?

The NeuRx DPS provides electrical stimulation to muscle and nerves in the diaphragm. When the muscle is stimulated, the diaphragm contracts and creates a vacuum-like effect in the chest cavity that allows air to fill the upper and lower parts of the lungs. When this contraction eases, the air is expelled from the lungs – essentially the same as regular breathing.

Small electrodes are then placed in the diaphragm laparoscopically. The electrodes are attached through wires under the skin to a small external battery-powered pulse generator that stimulates contraction of the diaphragm muscle, which allows you to breathe.

The surgery is done on an inpatient basis, with a short rehabilitation period often beginning the very next day. During this time, we will have the NeuRx DPS programmed to allow you to breathe comfortably. You will then have to condition and strengthen your diaphragm in order to reduce the amount of time you need to spend using the ventilator. Many patients are able to free themselves completely from the ventilator.

Why Choose Jefferson for Diaphragm Electrical Stimulation in Philadelphia?

Jefferson, in affiliation with Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, is designated as one of the nation's 14 Model Spinal Cord Injury Centers by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and is the only such center in the Delaware Valley.

Jefferson and the Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center of the Delaware Valley have treated more than 3,000 persons with spinal cord injury. We provide for the multidisciplinary coordination of emergency and acute medical/surgical care, rehabilitation beginning at the onset of acute care, vocational evaluation and training and lifetime follow-up care for persons with spinal cord injury.