Children with respirator-dependent quadriplegia because of C-2 spinal cord injuries are now surviving the acute stages of their injury. The major cause of mortality and morbidity in the chronic stage is due to respiratory complications. Surveillance, 24 h/d, is the best way to prevent accidental disconnection of respirator equipment from the patient and its inherent catastrophic consequences. The constant risk of disconnection adds tension to the home environment and takes away from the patient any degree of independence or privacy. Because of this, an alternative method of respiration using neck accessory muscles was developed to restore a patient-controlled, voluntary system of respiration. This method, neck breathing, is described in detail in seven children varying in age from 3 years to 16 years 3 months. All seven patients had complete paralysis of the intercostal muscles and the diaphragm. An eighth patient who was unable to learn the technique is also described. Neck breathing is also compared to glossopharyngeal breathing, an alternative method of respiration developed during the polio era.

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