The focus of the Cardiorespiratory Rehabilitation laboratory is to study methods to prevent or reverse respiratory muscle weakness in patients experiencing difficulty weaning from mechanical ventilation.
Although mechanical ventilation is a lifesaving technique, it promotes weakness and atrophy of the diaphragm muscle, which can complicate weaning from ventilator support. Evidence points to weakening of the respiratory muscles during the period of mechanical ventilation support as a major contributor to ventilator dependence. Currently, Dr. Danny Martin is working on a trial to characterize early atrophy signaling in the human diaphragm and prevent dysfunction with electrical stimulation. Dr. Barbara Smith is validating assessments of respiratory muscle function for patients with neuromuscular diseases and ventilatory insufficiency. The Cardiorespiratory Rehabiliation team collaborates with a multi-disciplinary group in Veterinary Medicine, Pediatrics, Surgery, and Anesthesiology to advance rehabilitation approaches for ventilator-induced respiratory muscle weakness.