The University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, Chicago, reports that it is among a dozen hospitals nationwide that have used a new device designed to aid breathing in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients without the use of a ventilator. According to the a recent news release, clinical trials of the device, the NeuRx Diaphragm Pacing System, suggested that it may assist ALS patients and chronic hypoventilation breath and sleep, delaying the need for a ventilator for up to 18 months.

The University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System notes that patient Angela Thompson, aged 41 years old has had the FDA approved device surgically implanted. “It works similar to a heart pacemaker. The device helps patients breathe easier by conditioning the diaphragm muscle through electrical stimulation,” explains Khaled Abdelhady, MD, FRSC, MSc, assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery at UIC. Abdelhady reportedly participated in the early development of the device and led the surgical team that performed Thompson’s procedure. 

The NeuRx Diaphragm Pacing System is designed to provide electric stimulation to the muscle and nerves in the diaphragm. Upon stimulation, the contraction of the diaphragm conditions the muscles, ultimately improving resistance to fatigue under normal exertion. 

Thompson adds that she hopes other ALS patients will also benefit from the device.

Source: University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System