Pacemakers That Let Patients Escape From The Iron Lung

For millions of heart patients, the pacemaker is an everyday medical miracle. But there's another kind of pacemaker--for breathing. With it, people paralyzed from the neck down and confined to an "iron lung" respirator can regain a measure of independence, aided by automated wheelchairs that they control with head movements or by blowing on special sensors. This implant uses the same principle as its famous cousin: Minute electrical signals stimulate periodic muscle contractions--in this case, in the diaphragm.

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