01 Sep 2015

Ventilators: Who Needs Them, And How Do They Work?

0 Comment

Breathing is one of the unique functions of our body in that it functions automatically, yet can be controlled by us. We can learn how to breathe deeper; we can hold our breath; we can speed up our breath.  But that’s only if we are healthy enough to allow such control. What about the many people who suffer from lung problems, muscular disorders, or brain malfunctions which make it difficult for them to breathe on their own? They might need a ventilator temporarily, or even long term. 

At Rockaway Care Center, we offer ventilator support in both our rehabilitation and elderly care units. At any given time, our residents might need ventilators due to the following reasons:

  • Pneumonia, or other infection
  • Nervous or muscular diseases, such as ALS
  • Injuries to the upper spinal cord
  • Brain injury
  • Stroke
  • Lung disease

How It Works

Ventilators most often rely on intubation – a tube inserted into your throat to your trachea, leading to your lungs. The throat is usually accessed via your nose or mouth, but occasionally the tube must be inserted directly into the throat via a surgical procedure.

The ventilator machine is attached to the tube, and directs air directly into it. Most people will exhale on their own, but if necessary the ventilator facilitates exhalation as well.  The number of breaths per minute can be calibrated- the average adult’s respiratory rate is 12-30 times per minute, and the elderly ‘s is higher than the average.

On rare occasion, an outer chest shell is used instead of intubation. That is to say, a shell is attached outside of your chest, and is set up to create a vacuum between itself and your lungs, sucking your lungs outward in order to expand them and allow breath to enter.  (In the early to mid-20th century, this type of mechanism was metal, and was dubbed an “iron lung.”)

Ventilators are used short term or long term – from the acute emergency, to lifelong need. We are pleased to be able to offer the intubation services at Rockaway Care Center, helping everyone breathe easier physically, and thereby mentally as well.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *