Craig Hospital’s World Renowned Ventilator-Weaning Program

One of the most difficult side-effects of a high-cervical spinal cord injury is losing the ability to breathe and requiring the use of a ventilator. Fortunately, there are options out there to wean oneself off of a ventilator. Although it is not possible for every level of injury and severity, for some, it's a possibility; which is why Craig Hospital has developed their very own Ventilator Weaning Program.

For over 30 years Craig Hospital has administered its services to the community in Englewood, Colorado, just outside Denver. They are known as one of the Top Model System Hospitals for spinal cord injury in the country. There is only a handful of these in the United States. Since people have been living full lives on ventilators for decades, especially outside of their homes and in the community, Craig has been excited to help people with spinal cord injuries on ventilators live as fully as possible.

For those with new injuries, they work hard with every patient to wean them off a ventilator. Their world-renowned ventilator-weaning program has a staff and management team that is experienced with the particulars of ventilation weaning. Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to wean themselves off of a ventilator. This is also why Craig provides extensive community transition rehabilitation and a solid reintegration program that helps people transition home so they are as healthy and independent as possible. This is critical to ventilator-living.

It takes exact expertise to wean SCI patients off a ventilator. There are various techniques on how to do it; two are considered the best:

  • intermittent vent breathing
  • ventilator-free breathing
You can learn more about the two methods here.

You don’t have to live in Colorado to take advantage of their services. Over 250 patients from approximately 36 states each year are admitted by Craig Hospital who take full advantage of their breadth of services. They are also experts in helping people learn how to eat safely while using a ventilator. Their speech therapy staff works with their respiratory staff to ensure each patient develops a safe and functional swallow, which is key to living independently as well.

Living on a ventilator long-term also means being educated on the best ways to take care of yourself if you get sick and can’t cough, which is common with people who use ventilators. They will make sure you and your family are prepared to handle this and all other healthcare scenarios, as well as educate your future caregivers to ensure your long-term safety. One of the biggest things they also teach is turning people in bed at night, who use a vent, on a regular basis in order to break up secretions that build up in the lungs. Turning also helps with lung expansion.

If you are on Medicaid and have a new injury, you will have a high chance of being admitted to Craig Hospital’s program. It may be difficult for family and friends to commute if you live far away from their location, but for those who live in rural areas far from spinal cord injury Top Model System Hospitals, this is one of the best hospitals to consider. They also offer some of the nicest inpatient and family housing around, and they have an adapted gaming area so you can have some real fun in your downtime, which is also just as important.

Learn more: Craig Hospital’s Respiratory Care Department

For more information about Craig's ventilator program, contact Lonnie Martinez at (303) 789-8479.

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